Pâine in ţăst
This is a round, flat bread typical of Dacia, the Romanian region stretching from the Carpathians to the Danube (today corresponding to Oltenia and Transylvania), and its distinctive trait is its being baked in a special oven: the ţăst (a kind of text).
The ţăst is a large dome made of clay, water, goatskin or hemp fibre, horse dung: the paste obtained is flattened onto flat, grassy earth.
These ovens are made in the spring and left to dry for a few weeks, after which they are completed with another layer of clay and again left to dry in the shade for a few weeks. A good oven can last as long as 10-15 years.
To bake bread, first of all, a yeast dough is prepared with ground fresh millet and water, to be used as the rising agent for the next dough. The yeast dough is then mixed with rye and wheat flour, water and salt. This dough is shaped into round loaves and left to rise for 10-12 hours.
Before baking the bread, its surface can be brushed with various ingredients: the most common are tomatoes or pressed grapes, depending on the season, and the surface is slashed with a stick or a fork.
The fire is fed with small wood logs placed directly in the ground, with a stone heart on which the ţăst is placed until the temperature gets very high.
When it reaches the necessary temperature, the ashes are removed and the bread is placed directly on the hot stone, with no tray. At this point the bread is covered with the ţăst, this last is covered with ashes, and the bread is baked for about 30 minutes. Sometimes, the bread has to be turned over after about 15 minutes to cook evenly.
Bread cooked in a ţăst was eaten in the past by the Dacians before going hunting or into battle.
Nowadays it is a delicacy to eat alone or with sheep’s cheese, sheep pastrami and a glass of fresh red grape juice.