The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread Making in the 1840s

jstreed1476's picture

Bread Making in the 1840s

Followed one click after another to find this amazing article, courtesy of the National Park Service, describing baking, baking ovens, and other aspects of breadmaking in the middle of the 19th century. Seriously, it's worth your time.

The Baking Process in the 1840s





inlovewbread's picture

Thanks for posting this! I love this kind of stuff. I think I may even like the history portion of bread baking more than the baking itself- well almost.

If you like this kind of interesting information, have you read Six Thousand Years of Bread by H.E. Jacob? If not, it's worth hunting down at you library or buying.

JeremyCherfas's picture



kermitdd's picture

Thank you Jason for pointing out this online book to us.


At the bottom of the page is a link to the table of contents for this online book. Do yourself the favor of checking out the whole e-book.


Or you can just click this link assuming that I can get it to post correctly

Zeb's picture

Many thanks for posting this link. Incredibly interesting!  What happened in the mid 19th century to change everything?  Steam, commercial yeast, industrialisation? When did commercial yeast start being used by ships' bakers?  I have been trying to find out what was used to raise the bread that was baked on the SS Great Britain, now a museum in Bristol in its original dock.  Presumably one of these ferment methods described in this document?  The boat had ovens and there is a display of breads supposedly made on the ship but what the baker used is a mystery.....

wally's picture

Thanks Jason!  That was really informative and a look at a bygone era of baking.


rhomp2002's picture

When I was a kid my father owned a bakery.  The oven was a huge affair made out of corrugated iron and with large firebricks lining the oven on all sides.  The door was about 3 ft wide and 2 ft high and placed in the middle of the front of the oven.  The oven was heated by a long gas burner which extended the whole length of the oven.

One of my last jobs when I came home from school was to light the oven.  This would have been about 4:30 in the afternoon.  My dad and brother and I came in to do some baking about 10:30 at night.  My brother would start weighing out the flour and other ingredients for the bread, cinnamon buns, Danish and donuts.  My dad and I would make pies.  I was able to roll out the crust, fill the pie, roll out the top crust, slice off the extra dough and crimp the pies in about a minute and a half once I got in practice.  While this was going on the oven fire would be turned off.  The pies went into the oven and I was done for the day.  My dad and brother carried on with making all the rest of the stuff.  I would come back about 7 in the morning and my jobs might be to fry the donuts, glaze the donuts, wash out the cases, wait on the customers and fix the noon day meal (usually a soup or stew or something that could be put in the oven for them to eat at lunchtime).  Then I went to school for the day and they continued on with the rest of the jobs.  When I came home that afternoon, it was to light the oven again and then to clean the pans, clean the workbenches and mop the floors.  Then I was free to do my homework.  We were closed on Sundays and Mondays so those were the days for the family to do things together.

Wish now I had paid more attention to the other things that went on such as watching them make the bread and rolls.  Sure would have come in handy now that I am baking my own bread.  What my dad knew corresponds well with nbicomputer's reminiscences of his work in the bakeries as my dad had been a baker for over 20 years before he saved enough to buy his own bakery.  No mixes.  Everything from scratch.  He was one of the best bakers I have found.