El Camino Real International Heritage Center
Photo Gallery - The Center's traditional Horno (oven)
The horno is an adobe brick oven used by the pueblo Indians and Spanish colonists throughout the Southwest. It is similar in design
to stone and "mud" ovens used in ancient Egypt and other cultures. A horno was built at the Center using only adobe bricks and
finishing mud for an authentic, traditional horno.
HOW IT WORKS: Traditionally, a fire was built in the horno in early morning
to heat up the adobe bricks - which retains the heat for a surprising amount of time. When the fire and burning charcoal burns out,
and the bricks hot, the "ashes" are removed and the floor of the horno cleaned. This is the surface that bread or
other items are placed on for cooking. With the horno sealed, the heat of the adobe bricks inside the oven can cook meat,
stew, beans and bread for the remainder of the day.
Building our horno (traditional oven)
Click on photos to enlarge
Building the wood fire in the horno. Food is not cooked over the open flame, but by the heat stored by the adobe bricks.
With the fire burned out and adobe bricks hot, the horno is ready for cooking. Here, several loaves of bread are being baked.
The Center's horno ready for cooking.
Our horno is used by many of our reenactors for cooking a variety of traditional horno-cooked foods.
Our horno was built by a class of students in an adobe and horno building workshop at the Center, led by Dave Harkness.
Placing the adobe bricks to build the first tiers of the horno.
Dave Harkness showing how to position the bricks on the mud and keeping the form circular.
Smoothing the adobe mud over the bricks for a smooth, attractive finish.
Our finished horno and the adobe workshop students that built it.
Our horno was damaged in 2009 during a nasty hail and rain storm. It was repaired in 2010 by students during an adobe workshop.
Presentations detailed how preserving old adobe structures and plastering is performed to maintain the historic appearance and
aspects of this well used method of earth building. Several people also got "hands on" experience at the workshop in mixing
adobe for different purposes, and applying the mud for filling damaged adobe to smooth finishing, such as the dome of an horno (oven).
Noted adobe restoration expert and instructor Bruce Henry taught the "hands on" portion of the workshop. Bruce has been involved in
adobe preservation work at some of New Mexico's State Monuments and the Acoma Pueblo.
Preparing the adobe for the proper consistency and texture
Then mix-up the adobe "mud"
Ah ha! The instructor said it's finally the right consistency.
Wetting down the horno for applying the adobe finish.
Getting the adobe to begin plastering the horno
One of the students plastering the adobe onto the horno.
Not shown is the 25 mph wind that made keeping the adobe moist and pliable
Another student applying adobe for finishing the cap on the horno dome. A second smooth finishing layer was later added.