I'm curious as to when this technique was developed, and how long it took to become widely known - at least among the bread baking world. Any ideas?
My sense from reading Good Bread is Back and other books on baking history is that folding and low/no kneading was the way it was done for years prior to mechanization. Following World War II, when people had eaten heavy, sub-par bread out of necessity, machine-mixed, light fluffy loaves seemed like a godsend (even if they were largely flavorless). Bakers who cut their teeth in kitchens where mixers were a given only recently discovered what the trade off was.
So I had it backwards! I always pictured old-time bakers kneading away.
Imaging trying to *really* knead 50 to 100 pounds of dough at a time by hand. Every day, perhaps multiple batches a day if you are a baker in a busy neighborhood. Not easy at all.
Here is what you'd have had for a mixer 150 years ago.
That and a big paddle.
So folding and autolyse and all these slow rise things weren't a luxury until very recently, they were a necessity. The same with dried yeast too: wild yeast was your only option. So it is understandable why bakers would have been blissed out to have dried yeast and machines to mix to make baking so much simpler and their results so much more consistent. Only the curmudgeon would have complained about the lack of taste and stood in the way of "progess."
LOL! A curmudgeon indeed. I have been wracking my brain trying to remember how my Grandmother, born in 1901, made bread. There was a standmixer in the house, but while adequate for cakes, it couldn't have handled bread dough. While I can picture the bread dough rising in the pans, and cinnamon rolls rolled out for the butter, cinnamon and sugar I have no memories of her initial dough development. Besides baking for a large family almost from the day she was born; once widowed, she baked for a hotel with a very good dining room. She taught me to bake desserts, but I wasn't interested in bread then.
Is there a particular name for the bread bin in your picture?
I've always seem the term "dough trough" used for them.