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 04 apr 2006 18u54 

Bread man takes US by storm

August Vanderdonckt, a Belgian who emigrated to the United States 9 years ago, has made somewhat of a name for himself over in Florida. A report in Tuesday's edition of the daily 'De Morgen' says that the financial advisor's friends and neighbours are all mad about the bread that Mr Verdonckt bakes in his free time.

Despite generally enjoying his new life in the United States, Mr Vanderdonckt doesn't like the bread.

He told the paper that American bread "tastes like cotton wool" and "has no chewy crust".

Most Americans buy their bread at the supermarket and although there are some baker's shops in the US, they often charge as much as 4 US Dollars for a loaf.

Missing his daily bread, Mr Vanderdonckt decided to bake his own.

Rather than taking the soft option and a buying bread making machine, he decided to build his own bread oven in the back garden of his home in Tampa Heights, Florida

Pizza party

August Vanderdonckt told the paper that he regularly throws pizza parties for his friends, at his home in the sunshine state. In the summer of 2004 he decided to invite his friends round to help him celebrate his birthday.

"The prospect of sitting around a red hot oven indoors, while it's boiling hot outside, didn't really appeal to us".

So Vanderdonckt decided to look on the internet and in books to find out how to build his own bread oven.

It took him three months to build the oven and another two months to tile it. Since then, he has baked bread every weekend.

He bakes as many as 16 loaves at a time, although he usually limits this to 2, if he is trying out a new recipe.

Mr Vanderdonckt says that the hardest thing about baking is getting the oven temperature right and knowing how long the bread needs to be kept in the oven before it's baked.

Own website 

August Vanderdonckt set up a website about his oven. The site, which was initially meant to let his family back in Belgium see what he was up to, has attracted many visitors from all over the world.

Several people have already asked Mr Vanderdocnkt to build them a bread oven. Up until now, he has helped build two ovens in Florida.

Although it's a hobby for the time being, Mr Vanderdonckt doesn't rule out becoming a full-time bread oven builder at some time in the future.

Find out more about Mr Vanderdonckt's oven.

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