The Fresh Loaf

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Water makes the baker rich!

Ford's picture

Water makes the baker rich!

I have heard the ex[pression, "Water makes the baker rich."  I would like to know the source of that quote or a similar one.  I know this refers to the face that a slack dough will rise more than a dry one and thus give a loaf with more volume, BUT who said it?

johnster's picture

Information No results found for "water makes the baker rich".


The omniscient Google does not lie....



Ford's picture

I have searched the internet and I agree no results.  I am not sure of the exact quote, just the sense of it.  I thought it came from Mike Avery, but he does not acknowledge it.

SteveB's picture

Although I don't know who was the first person to use the expression, I believe it refers to the fact that water is less expensive than flour and that a bread with a higher hydration will bring the baker a higher profit margin.



Ford's picture

I agree that is the sense of the quote.  I would like to be able to attribute it to the correct author.  Perhaps your topic is a truer quote.

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)
suave's picture

It's in Hamelman's book, and I think he attributes it to German bakers.  It refers not to the volume, but rather to the weight of the bread, since the bread is sold by weight so the higher the percentage of water in the finished loaf, the higher the profit margin.


Ford's picture

I have "Bread, A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" by Jeffrey Hamelman.   I looked again today, and I cannot find the reference.  If you can find the page number, I would appreciate it.


leucadian's picture

That's from page 189 of Hamelman's 'Bread: etc'. The full quotation:

Rye doughs should be fairly loose textured, so be cautious about adding flour. Looser doughs bring out the full robust flavor of rye more thoroughly than dry doughs, which ferment with difficulty and tend to have poor volume (another aspect of rye bread is the economic one, underscored by a saying among German bakers: "Water makes the baker rich").


Ford's picture

I do thank you for finding the reference.  I knew I had read it, but I could not retrieve it, and it has been knawing at me.  I found the reference, just where you said it was.

Stringbean42's picture

Not an expert, and I don't claim to be, but when I read your post, my first thought was the old addage about the quality of the water making, say, New York bagels, or Parisian baguettes what they are. Maybe it's referring to that? Lots of folks say that's why you can't replicate a good New York bagel at home: it's that New York water. Or maybe I'm just adding to the confusion!

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...That is a widely believed myth about NY bread and bagels.
Peter Reinhart actually spends a lot of his time dispelling that old myth.

Fact: You want the best possible quality from the water you use.
Absolutely no taste should come from the water itself.

copyu's picture

“Ist der Teig kühl und weich? Macht er jeden Bäcker reich!”

Translates loosely as: “If the dough is cool and soft, it makes the bakers rich…

However, the literal saying, in German: “Water makes the baker rich” appears as a ‘homily’ on page 35 of this [German-language-only] “Bosch” catalog [98-page .pdf file, just FYI...]

Hope this helps someone!


[Edit for page# correction. I gotta get some new eyes!]

dabrownman's picture

I would say that the bearing sea water full of gold makes the baker way more rich than any heavy rye bread full of water  :-) 

MNBäcker's picture

That's funny... I knew about the water in bread having a higher profit margin and the "Kuehl und weich" saying, but I also remember us joking about a good German butcher being able to make water "cuttable" (as in, he can put so much water in his wurst that there's barely any meat left in it).