Baking bread at the Machtolsheim bake-house

Mrs. Ulrike Bahmer, from the district administration of the Alb-Donau-Kreis region, invited us to a baking event in Machtolsheim, a town about 30 km from Ulm, in the “Schwäbische Alb”. Ten women and two men were her guests there on the twenty-second of October, 2016.

The bake-house was built in 1960 and the facility is used by between ten and fifteen families. They bake thirty or more times per year. Two bake-women make sure that the fire is burning correctly and are responsible for the baking process.

For the baking to begin, it is very important that the oven be heated to the right temperature: 300 degrees Celsius. While the oven warmed up, Mrs. Bahmer showed us how to prepare dough by hand. This was an unusual activity for us, but we all managed it.

For the dough we used the following ingredients: 500 g flour, 125-250 ml water, half a cube fresh yeast, a pinch of sugar, one spoon of salt. We also had the option of adding some fat and bread herbs.

Using a different dough, we also prepared pretzel rolls, apple pies and quiches.

Soon it was time: The oven was at the right temperature and the dough had risen enough. The remaining embers were removed from the oven with a tool called a “Kratzer”, then the oven was cleaned with a „Feudel“ or „Hudelwisch“ (a long rod with a wet cloth) and then the bread was inserted. Each loaf was labelled with a small piece of paper; of course, everyone wanted to take home his or her own bread.

After the bread had been inserted, the cake tins with the rolls and cakes followed. The rolls and cakes were ready to be taken out of the oven first – everything was really hot. After about an hour, the bread was ready too. The loaves were taken out of the oven with a kind of wooden paddle and were then brushed with water to give them a shine.

Everyone was really happy and proud of the results and hopes that there will be another baking event soon.

(Text and photographs: Dr. W. Doster,
optimisation of the English version: Eamonn O’Leary)