[Sca-cooks] Bread Labor
t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Thu Nov 1 23:34:42 PDT 2007
The question as presented is incomplete in that it does not differentiate
between common and commercial baking. A commercial baker wouldn't muck with
five pounds of flour. Since I've read the other messages in the thread, I
understand that you are looking for effort involved in each step.
How large an area are you trying to prepare? Do you have a stick, a plow
pulled by people or a plow pulled by oxen? Simple plow or mould board?
What kind of soil? How many people are involved? I would think that
preparing the soil on five acres would take one to three days with a plow,
possibly a little more if you spread and plow in dung for fertilizer. A day
for the sowing and a few more man days for irrigation and weeding over the
next few months.
A critical issue is the yield per bushel of seed. Yields varied between 1
1/2 to 1 to around 10 to 1. The lower the yield, the more acres needed to
Harvesting five acres by hand -- 4 to 8 man-days. Threshing -- 2 to 4 man
Milling -- 1 to 2 man days. You will lose 15 to 20 percent of the grain (by
weight) to chisel leaving 55 to 60 pounds of flour from a 70 pound bushel.
For hand querns, the overall time is more of a problem to calculate. Where
peasants and manors might grow the grain and have it milled, commercial
bakers would buy grain and have it milled. London bakers particularly liked
to purchase foreign bushels weighing more than 70 pounds, because it
produced more profit.
Firewood for the ovens -- 1 or 2 man days for one day's firing.
Preparation time for the dough -- 30 minutes to 2 man hours, depending on
Kneading -- 5 pounds, 10-15 minutes by hand, 100 pounds, 20 to 30 minutes
with a brake (a heavy log with one end affixed to the wall above the
kneading table in period; modern brakes are power roller systems or Hobarts
with dough hooks).
First rise -- overnight.
Firing the ovens -- 1 to 2 hours.
Shaping -- five minutes to 2 hours.
Second rise -- open question as to whether it was done.
Clean and load oven -- 10 minutes.
Baking -- 1 hour.
Now for some caveats. We have no idea how much bread was baked at one time
in a simple home. A grand manor would produce approximately 2 pounds of
bread per person per day plus as much as 1 to 2 pounds of trencher bread per
person per day. For persons of comfortable but lesser means, trencher bread
was only for special occasion (reference Menagier). Grand manors hired
commercial bakers, who were paid the same as other guild bakers. I did some
simple calculations based on the combined households of the lord and lady of
one of the grand families (ala Woolgar) that the baker was preparing the
equivalent of 500+ pounds of bread per day. In that case, the baker was
sent ahead of the travelers by three to four days to prepare an initial
stock of bread at the manor.
The commercial baker was permitted three servants and two boys for staff
under the Lucrum Pistoris. He was required to give loaves of full measure
as directed under the Assize of Bread. For the great households, the bakery
and its staff were entirely seperate from the kitchen. The kitchen staff
far outnumbers the bakers.
Without assistance, I have prepared 120 pounds of bread and 160 pastries
(and one batch of cinnamon rolls for the baker and friends) in around 16
hours of labor using roughly the above baking schedule. If I'd had a 20
gallon Hobart rather than a 20 quart Hobart, I could have cut the time to
about 10 hours. I would say that a trained staff of five could crank out
500 pounds of bread in about 14-16 hours if they had enough oven space.
> My cooks guild has been having an interesting discussion regarding the
> physical labor of making bread. What it mostly boils down to is how long
> period it might have taken to make a loaf of bread. There is a pretty
> apprentice in the midst who usually goes down the path of grow your own
> grind it, etc. That in turn put the rest of the guild into just how long
> might take. So they started with sewing and growing the grain, how much
> would be needed for 5 pounds of flour, then mill it, how long, (I think
> they have way too much time on their hands, and I will try and fix it
> Has anyone here gone to the trouble of calculating that? Here is another
> left turn. How many man hours of kneading equals 1 hour on the bread
> hooks of
> the Hobart?
> We have had a couple of discussions about just how large a kitchen staff
> would need to be to pull off a feast for 100, from scratch. It seems the
> take up a fair amount of that staff.
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