[Sca-cooks] Bread Labor

jenne at fiedlerfamily.net jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
Wed Oct 31 08:09:56 PDT 2007

> 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
> in
> period it might have taken to make a loaf of bread.  There is a pretty
> rabid
> apprentice in the midst who usually goes down the path of grow your own
> grain,
> grind it, etc.  That in turn put the rest of the guild into just how  long
> that
> might take.  So they started with sewing and growing the  grain, how much
> wheat
>  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
> quickly).
> 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?

One thing that I read about in the Leeds symposium on Food and Society
books  that I had not heard of before, and which affects the amount of

Apparently, in pre-modern times right up to the late 19th century, it was
common to knead bread dough either using a sort of lever arrangement (with
a pole fastened at one end like half of a flail positioned longwise over a
table, which was then raised and lowered into the dough) or by enclosing
the dough in a very large fabric bag and kneading it by jumping and
jogging on it with the feet.

It's not mentioned in the two bread history books I have, but both of them
are modern-ish. H. E. Jacob's 6000 years of bread betrays such a strong
distaste for physical labor that I suspect before his Nazi camp experience
he probably had little contact with the making of bread; and Elizabeth
David's bread book centers more on the home making of bread.

-- Jenne Heise / Jadwiga Zajaczkowa
jenne at fiedlerfamily.net

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