© Cor Snabel
Bread is not only a universal food, but it was eaten at least 2000 years ago. Didn't Abraham eat bread and wasn't Samson convicted to grind the corn for his enemies?
Regulations concerning the manufacturing of bread in Amsterdam are at least 500 years old, but are mostly about the weight, price and quality. And of course the regulations of the St. Hubertus guild, but those were mostly about how the oven had to be placed and how to prevent fire. None of those strict regulations are about hygiene.
The fact that the dough is kneaded with the hands is even today completely acceptable, although machines took over that job, But we can hardly believe, that the baker did the kneading with his feet, even till in the 19th century.
I have a picture of a 350 years old memorial stone showing a baker kneading the dough with his feet. On the other hand, what's strange about it, just think about how the grapes for wine were processed.
The type of oven, which was used for baking bread, hardly changed throughout the centuries. The oven was made of heat-resistant stone and was heated with wood, branches, peat or sawdust. After heating the oven for some time, the fire was removed and the oven was washed. The stone walls, floor and ceiling of the oven had accumulated the heat and the bread was inserted. After a few times the oven was cooled down a little and the remaining heat was used for other articles, which needed lower temperatures.
This oven was also the reason, why a bakery was often on one particular place for centuries. The shop and the living space were practically built around the oven and its chimney, so the building could hardly be used for any other purpose.
The rye bread was the main food for the people, that's why the price and quality of the rye bread were strictly regulated, but according to the bakers the price was to low. In order to get it their way, they made the bread smaller, but the authorities appointed official controllers, who had to measure and weigh the bread in the shops. It is obvious that these officials were far from popular. The bakers hired some men and women, who posted at the homes of the controllers and the moment he left his house, all bakers on his route were warned, so they could hide their "illegal" bread.
But beside the rye bread the bakers were able to make very delicious fine bread in various kinds of quality and taste. The regulation concerning white bread and other luxurious kinds of bread were not as strict as for rye bread.
The bread baker was not allowed to make biscuit, pie or pastry, since 1497 the guild had been split up and each delicacy had its own guild.