The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking bread in 1837

JoPi's picture

Baking bread in 1837

Hello Bakers, 

I found this book,, and thought you all should see it.  When you get to the page, on the left there is a tab to "Read Online".  

Written in 1837, very interesting views on bread baking, yeast, who should bake it, etc.  


thomaschacon75's picture

I like how, on p. 103-4, he says, essentially, that bread making is a persnickety ordeal. True then as now!

"For if we follow our rules ever so closely, there may be some slight differences in the quality or condition of the meal or the yeast, or something else, which will materially alter the character of the bread, if we do not exercise proper care and judgement, and vary our operations according to the particular circumstances of the case may require."





Elagins's picture

"Thousands in civic life will, for years, and perhaps as long as they live, eat the most miserable trash that can be imagined, in the form of bread, and never seem to think that they can possibly have anything better, nor even that it is an evil to eat such vile stuff as they do." -- page v.

What a wonderful find!

Stan Ginsberg

thomaschacon75's picture
thomaschacon75 surely he means those things that pass for bread at Safeway, etc.

clazar123's picture

I just started reading the beginning but I think it will be an educational read. After just glancing at several pages, I am amazed at how much people knew about what good nutrition was and how quickly we forgot it when flooded with advertising and marketing. 

proth5's picture

the writings of a genuine "character" there - Sylvester Graham - of cracker fame.

Many of his ideas are/were good and many of them, well, just a bit odd (and they went far beyond just whole meal bread...).

The pages on "Who should make bread?" are/were appalling. Sorry if I stir controversy - but there you have it.

freerk's picture

Thank you so very much for Finding and sharing this!


Jw's picture

Bread strengeneth man's hear. Holy Writ. (front page).


GSnyde's picture

From page 87, true words:

"Now, then, the business of the bread- maker is, to take the wheat meal, pre- pared in the manner I have stated, and with all the properties I have described, and convert it into good, light, sweet, well- baited bread, with the least possible change in those properties; so that the bread, when done, will present to the senses of smell and taste, all the delicious flavor and deli- cate sweetness which pure organs per- ceive in the meal of good new wheat, just taken from the ear and ground, or chewed without grinding ; and it should be so baked that it will, as a general state- ment, require and secure a full exercise of the teeth in mastication. "
proth5's picture

Says “Let it go”, but the curmudgeon part simply cannot.

Bread baked according the Graham.  With coarsely ground wheat flour (had to be coarsely ground to be Graham’s style of flour) and no salt. Dense and chewy. Washed down by cold water (not even milk or a bracing cup of tea.)  Yummy.  I’m afraid that is a truth to which I do not aspire.

Yes, no salt.  And none of those spicy chicken parts, or more than 2 or 3 things for a meal, or dinner at 8, or even lemonade because they would cause feelings and actions best not described on a family website.

Of course in the “holy” writ he quotes, he omits the first part of the passage: “Wine that gladdens the heart of man” because Graham was pretty strict about not drinking alcohol (in fact, as cited above, he believed one should drink only cold water).  Seems “holy” writ exists to be bent to one’s own agenda.

And I’m sure that orphans and children whose mothers could not bake “good” bread are cheered to know that their moral character will be permanently damaged by eating bad bread (yes, he wrote that) – there being no other source for good bread than one’s own mother.  Too bad honest bakers can’t earn a living by baking good bread and feed those unfortunates.

“Sour” bread (or rye bread for that matter) did not fit Graham’s agenda because it would be too strong in flavor – leading once again to those feelings and actions mentioned above.

Yes, some of his points are good ones and with some, in dreams of a world where everyone does things the same way and has the same honest talents and desires, he paints a pretty picture.  Loving mommies with upright husbands lovingly baking breads for their charming children.  Daddies that would never think of baking bread (no, really, that’s what he actually said – only a mother has the “right” feelings – he did not say “parent” and he meant it.)  No orphans, no neglectful parents, no single adults, no desire on the part of women to express other skills or paths other than motherhood.  What a lovely world. If only…

But that dream quickly becomes a nightmare if society is forced to really live it.  And I guess there is that thing that lives within me that allows me to read all the words in a book and put it in the context of other writings by the same individual that rebels at the fawning over this little tract.  Yes, it presents a charming sort of prison for the human spirit and for that reason I can appreciate it as the historical artifact that it is, but not be desirous of elevating it to truth in a "nutshell."  This is not a book about baking bread, it is a book about a belief system and really needs to be evaluated as such.  As always (and perhaps I overestimate) I think we should be able to do better.

Think about it.

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Spot on.

dreams of a world where everyone does things the same way and has the same honest talents and desires

If we are all thinking the same thing, then no one's thinking.

- Keith

Janetcook's picture

Thanks for sharing this.  What a gem.

 I especially like the discussion on the mother who choose to bake her own bread rather than leaving the task to her 'domestic' help because it gave her much satisfaction to see her family eat something she had made that was healthy and so much better for them than other foods available during those times.....

Holds true today for me!  Some things never change :^)



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

He doesn't seem to be a fan of sourdough breads and appears stuck in a "sweet" rut.  The idea that sweet breads are better, healthier, needs up dating.  Anyway, I will pick up on it later...  Thanks