Making Wood Fire-baked Bánh Mì in Huế

My mother loves nothing but loaves of bánh mì which are freshly baked in wood-fired ovens and still feel hot in her hands the moment she has them. I’m happy that I could always make her satisfied thanks to the traditional bakeries near our house. Many bakeries in Huế have changed from baking bánh mì in wood-fired ovens to electric ovens for fire safety and saving time, only some in our neighborhood still use the traditional ones.

However, I’ve recently talked to Quốc, a 25-year-old bánh mì maker and owner whose bakery is located in Kim Long Market and he revealed that he would have to change to electric-oven baking shortly as the market management was concerned about fire safety. Before this bakery would be modernized, I photographed Quốc’s making bánh mì in the traditional way for remembrance.

Quốc starts his working day at 3 am every day.
He is a young owner and has no employee yet.
He does every step of making bánh mì on his own.
He’s doing a final touch before feeding the unbaked bánh mì to the oven.
He’s preparing the oven before he feeds a tray of unbaked bánh mì to the oven.
He always tries to make sure the temperature is right.
He’s checking if the bánh mì is well done.
He’s picking up the well done bánh mì and returning the rest to the oven for some more minutes.
He’s moving loaves of bánh mì to a bamboo basket and they are ready for sale.
Sometimes these loaves of bánh mì are waiting for guests…
… but sometimes guests have to wait for them.
While most of people here have the habit of containing bánh mì in a plastic bag…
I prefer to carry these beautiful babies in a paper bag.