[Sca-cooks] Brandreths and bakestones oh my...

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Mon Jun 21 14:30:39 PDT 2010

> Stefan queries:
>>What are "brandreths"?
> Um...think tall metal trivets, usually open in the middle.  Some were 
> square
> in shape, others round or triangular.  The height of the legs provide heat
> control for your fire, with the notion that when you wanted to really get
> things hot, you'd use one with short legs, thus close to the fire, taller
> ones for more moderate heat.  I suspect they were developed because a set 
> of
> them, plus various and sundry pots, were a lot cheaper (and easier to
> make) than a whole MESS of pots with feet with various length legs, and 
> less
> prone to pot-breakage.  You can also keep a ceramic pot much further from
> the fire if you want than if they had built in ceramic legs of their own,
> plus you can probably use a much bigger pot.

The original usage of brandreth is for a grate or gridiron mounted on a 
tripod and used over a fire.  The definition expanded to include all sorts 
of tripodal supports, a fence or railing around a well and a structure of 
piling serving as the foundation of a house.

>>The bakestones I think I've heard of were flat plates of stone (or
> stoneware?) placed in an oven to provide an even heat source. >When you 
> say
> "bakestone" which is for outside use and I assume not in a gas oven or on
> top of a gas range, what do you >have in mind?
> Those in fact are the bakestones (flat plates of stone), though the 
> earlier
> approach, at least for the Welsh, was to take one of these bakestones and
> put it on (taa daa)...yes, a brandreth, as a sort of griddle.  Though I
> imagine a poorer kitchen would just make a permament nook off the main
> hearth and keep the bakestone there permanently.  If you wanted to bake 
> with
> it (more than just flatbreads), you could invert a nice heavy ceramic pot
> (I'm thinking a nice big terracotta flowerpot) over your goods to be 
> baked,
> and pile coals around the lot, with the fire underneath as well.  Voila,
> Dutch oven-type baking without a non-period Dutch oven.  From what I've 
> read
> (Brears), the really good bakestones were carved with a shallow hollow
> underneath, allowing for better expansion and contraction.  Apparently 
> also
> there are a number of British placenames that were derived from being 
> places
> that bakestones were gathered/mined/or otherwise associated with (I don't
> have a list of those names right now, being as I'm at work, and my
> non-electronic library isn't).
> Gwyn

If you want to bake with a flower pot, you will need to plug the hole in the 
bottom and putting coals around it and on top should help even out the 
heat..  The type of oven you are referencing is known as a cloche oven and 
the earliest examples I can think of are Athenian from about 3,000 years 

You don't necessarily need to cover to bake leavened bread on a bakestone, 
but they do help to even the heat around the bread and produce a better 


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