© Cor Snabel
Bread has been the main ingredient on the menu until the end
of the 18th century. The bakers of the 17th century could
bake a variety of specific kinds of bread, but rye bread was
the main food for the people. That’s why the price, quality
and the ingredients, like the amount of bran (used to make
the bread heavier) were strictly regulated, but according to
the bakers the price was too 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 were 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.
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 until the 19th century.
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.
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.
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