As a knitter, I stand in awe of the work that went into a simple set of clothes in the past-I'm talking about a time before you could walk into the nearest store and buy a ready-made article of clothing, and even before someone of modest means could buy cloth to make her own clothing. A time when getting a new dress meant first shearing the sheep or harvesting the flax, then spinning the thread, weaving the cloth, and finally sewing the garment-weeks, months, perhaps almost a year, just for a new dress.
I have the same sense of admiration and curiosity about bread and how much work it took to produce that daily loaf to feed a family the days before you could buy a 5 lb sack of flour at the supermarket, yeast in packets, and bake it in an electric or gas oven. Or run to the corner store to buy a loaf (which I know was more possible in the 1800's in most cities, but perhaps not in rural locales).
So I'm calling on anyone with an interest in history (an historical re-enactor, perhaps, SCA member, etc.), who has listened to their grandparents' stories, or who has researched this and can tell about a day in the life of bread for a particular time in history and locale (your choice of time and place).
Here's some of the things I'm curious about:
1. Approximate time (i.e. 1840's, 1700's, etc.)
2. Place (if it's an unfamiliar locale, please describe i.e. in the country or a place of commerce, terrain, climate, etc.)
3. Source of grain (i.e. can most people in that time and place afford to buy milled flour or whole grain or do they have to grow their own? Where does it come from and how does it get to the consumer?)
4. Types of grain common to the locale and time.
5. Source of leavening and how the leavening source is perpetuated.
6. Type or types of bread commonly produced.
7. Describe what type of mixing and baking vessels might have been used, if any.
8. How is that bread baked? What is the source of the heat for baking?
9. Describe a "day in the life of bread"-in other words, the baker's day (or days) producing that loaf???
10. Finally, care to speculate how that baker managed time to bake and also get everything ELSE done without modern conveniences?
I hope this will be a fun and enlightening thread.