coeur alsace

Baeckeoffe Terrines

In the 12th century, the Emperor Barberousse (Frederick I) granted the potters of Soufflenheim the “perpetual right” to extract clays from the Haguenau forest.

Making of Alsatian Pottery in Soufflenheim

The clay, freshly extracted from the earth, first spends some time in a mixer, to soften it and leave it more homogenous.  This operation was much more painstaking in the past, when the potter had to remove the earth and other impurities from the clay by hand, before being able to knead it…. sometimes using their feet.

The second phase, called shaping, is the most impressive: the simple chunk of clay transforms itself on the pottery wheel—manifesting itself between the hands of the potter.

The forms and the molds are themselves created in plaster molds or dies.  The following stage is where the potter garnishes the piece: handles and other details are applied using barbotine (a clay/water mixture) that serves as an adhesive.

The coating operation happens right after drying and consists of applying a thin layer of colored clay that serves as a base color before the decoration.  Women artists then perform this decorating. Equipped with long goose feather quills from where colored engobe flows out of, they trace intricate motifs and arabesque patterns with astounding dexterity!

A layer of transparent enamel (necessary for waterproofing) is applied on this Alsatian pottery before baking it.

This last step is the most important before the pottery is baked.  Modern gas ovens allow the baking to complete in only 12-13 hours, however, in the past, it took four days!

Care and Usage Precautions for Alsatian Pottery

All of our Alsatian pottery from Soufflenheim is safe in ovens, microwave ovens, and dishwashers.

Regardless, observe the following for these pieces:

1)      Do not cause thermal shock, i.e. a rapid change from cold to hot or vice-versa.

2)      Never place the pottery directly on a source of heat.

Alsatian Plates and Recipes for Using Your New Pieces

You can find recipes for Alsatian plates and desserts, in particular that of Kougelhopf and Baeckeoffe in the section “Alsatian Cookbooks.”

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Plaisirs d’Alsace, 13 rue des Dentelles, 67000 Strasbourg. Tél.: 03 88 21 07 93.