Monday, February 9, 2015

View of the Chamber of the Lechem Hapanim

The southeastern chamber of the Hall of the Fire was used on Fridays to bake the lechem hapanim [show bread]. In this chamber the Kohanim would knead the dough, shape it into the lechem hapanim's unique shape using a golden form, and then bake the loaves two at a time in an oven. After they finished baking, the loaves were placed into another form to cool. The finished loaves were then transferred to a table within the Antechamber where they stayed until Shabbos when they were taken into the Sanctuary and placed upon the Golden Table. The loaves which had been on the Table from the previous week were removed and distributed among the Kohanim to eat.


Interior of the Chamber of Lechem Hapanim.
In the last post where I described how the bread was baked I wrote that once the dough was shaped inside the form, the form was inverted onto the beehive inside the oven and then separated from the dough. After thinking more about how this process would actually work in real life, it turns out that this would require the baker to put his hands right into the hot oven in order to pull this off, literally. The solution I came up with is to give the Kohanim a wooden shovel of sorts which can be used to transfer the dough from the form to the oven. The shaped dough would be inverted onto the shovel and the form removed, then the shovel would be inserted into the oven and quickly pulled out, leaving the dough behind on the beehive. This same tool could also be used to remove the loaf from the oven without breaking it.

The wooden shovel used to transfer the dough
into and out of the oven.
After all that we know (and have conjectured) about how the lechem hapanim was baked, what "secret" is left for the Garmu family to own that made them the only people who could successfully produce these loaves? Here are some steps where a greater expertise would be needed:

1. The ratio of flour to water to produce dough of the proper consistency that would hold its shape.
2. The temperature of the water used in the dough.
3. How to keep the dough from sticking to the form (and to the wooden shovel).
4. How to deftly transfer the dough from the form to the hot oven.
5. How to remove the loaves from the oven without breaking them [rediyas hapas].

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic description.....one of the few things I can do in the kitchen is bake bread...which I do regularly...must be genetic!

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