06 Aug2008

Osang’s Oven…

by Marketman


It’s really hard to believe that tens of thousands of broas come out of this little terra cotta oven every single month. Not to mention thousands of pastel, cookies and other baked goodies. My main purpose for visiting Osang’s broas the other day, while on a quick trip to Bohol, was to document the manner and oven in which the pastries are baked… It’s as primitive as I remember it, and yet it all makes incredible sense. The small terra cotta oven has a solid base and sides of roughly 3/4 to 1 inch thick of pottery or terra cotta…


The roof of the oven is open (no pottery) but then covered with a piece of galvanized iron, on top of which are placed the slowly burning embers of pieces of hardwoods that keep smoldering away… So there is heat from the top of the oven. Underneath the clay or pottery floor of the oven there are more hardwood embers that provide heat from below. Think of a large rectangular bibingkahan. What this all provides is a dry heat environment that is similar to say a modern gas oven… But the variability of heat within the oven would stress me out big time. Apparently, after several weeks on the job, the cooks learn to estimate the heat levels quite accurately (no instant thermometers in this kitchen!)…


A makeshift chimney or vent allows all of the smokey burn off to exit the kitchen…


…and beside the clay oven is a flat bed filled with hot gray embers and steel bars to “dry” or “re-bake” the broas to ensure a long-lasting crispness (in this photo the area has a pot normally used for making yema or custard filling for the pastel cookies)…


The steel bars are spread out a few inches above the coals and the broas are positioned by hand and individually watched so as not to burn their undersides… talk about labor intensive!


Finally, here is a brand new terra cotta oven waiting in the wings… if you look at the existing oven in use up top, it has a large crack on the floor of the oven… so this new one is ready and waiting to take its place. Isn’t this all just fascinating? I think it is. And now I am trying to find someone who will craft a similar oven for some baking experiments I want to try down the road… As for Osang’s recipes for their baked goods, that is one secret I wasn’t even going to ask about!



  1. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    MM, Did you find out who made their terra cotta oven?

    Aug 6, 2008 | 7:54 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    Artisan, I was too djahe to ask, but I plan to send someone to liloan to see if I can have one made, want one?

    Aug 6, 2008 | 8:41 pm

  4. Homebuddy says:

    Very interesting post MM. I would like to know how much it will cost once you can have one made. Thanks so much!

    Aug 6, 2008 | 8:47 pm

  5. Apicio says:

    Osang’s stand-by spare oven does not appear too different from the Hearthkit brick oven insert that’s supposed to give your conventional home oven the baking qualities of a brick oven. Throw in bits of wood chips and you probably would be tear-lessly savoring wood-fired oven baked treats in no time at all.

    Mother’s oven where she roasted whole pig’s heads and fragile chiffon cakes was welded out of the thick gauge steel truck bed of a derelict 6×6, jacketed with refractory bricks and fueled with rice husk. No oven thermometer of any kind, you learn to control the heat only through experience and by poking of the rice husk fuel to make it descend at certain intervals. I peeked into the much vaunted Le Cornue vaulted oven in their showroom once and it reminded me of the interior of my mom’s oven from oh so many years ago.

    Aug 6, 2008 | 11:56 pm

  6. Angela says:

    Ahhh, Le Cornue. . .my husband and I into getting one. We were told that we would have to retrofit the entire kitchen to accommodate one of those. Suffice it to say, we didn’t get one though my husband promised that we would. . .sometime in this lifetime ;)

    Aug 7, 2008 | 1:54 am

  7. sonianer says:

    thanks MM! you write with as much enthusiasm about down home matters as you do about new york or athens or other hoity toity stuff.
    will make sure i get some of osang’s broas and other pastries soon and see all the wonderful things you write about bohol when i visit the province.

    Aug 7, 2008 | 5:42 am

  8. Maricel says:

    I remember reading of the Orosa Palayok Oven that Maria Orosa used to bake cakes and other goodies in during the Japanese Occupation. Same principle but she uses the regular shaped round palayok. I do not know if her cookbook is still in print but it is a very interesting read as she uses lots of indigenous ingredients for healthy meals that she used to smuggle in for captured Guerillas jailed at the UST.

    Aug 7, 2008 | 9:50 am

  9. lyna says:

    Curious MM, how do they close the oven when baking? … Nice idea to have a terracota oven! I am sure you can get one made and have it outdoors with it’s own chimmney. You can bake, roast etc….

    Aug 7, 2008 | 9:56 am

  10. MarketFan says:

    I bet they can also bake super pizzas in this oven. Will give Viking a run for their money…

    Aug 7, 2008 | 12:19 pm

  11. Cecile J says:

    They only have one small oven and can churn out lots of yummies? Amazing! Ang galing ng Pinoy at ang sarap magluto!

    Aug 7, 2008 | 1:09 pm

  12. ging berdon says:

    do let me know if you can find someone who can make the oven MM. Would love one for myself and all the pizzas my nephews eat.

    Aug 8, 2008 | 6:22 am

  13. Topster says:

    Nice piece on Aling Osang’s oven. I just remembered that in our province in Magalang, Pampanga the local baker would also engage in “sidelines” by baking slabs of liempo in his oven. This was often by special request for family gatherings or simple drinking fare. The result was like the photo of the yummy pork skin in your latest photo (assuming it is pork, LOL). But sadly, I don’t know if the local baker uses a gas oven or a traditional oven similar to Aling Osang’s.

    Aug 8, 2008 | 8:32 am

  14. sister says:

    Just ask Osang- ovens like that may just be a local Bohol product. After all, why reinvent the wheel. Million dollar question is will the broas taste look and tast the same with the new oven or has Osang’s already worn out a few similar ovens in the last 50 years?

    Aug 8, 2008 | 9:50 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    sister, they change ovens fairly often as the “quality” of the clay has deteriorated… read, the ovens crack after a while. This shape is custom made for them, but I was too embarrassed to ask who or where I could get them…

    Aug 9, 2008 | 8:33 am

  16. Gay says:

    I want one, too! :)

    Aug 10, 2008 | 7:59 pm

  17. Marie Riosa says:

    Hi marketman,

    I definitely want one ! or a brick oven! Please tell us where we can buy one or have one fabricated. Thanks.


    Aug 12, 2008 | 11:14 am


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