An historical sketch with illustrations - by Mr Paul Pfleiderer

27 January, 2012
Taken from The National Association of Master Bakers & Confectioners First Volume Quarterly Trade Review Minutes of the inaugural meetings held on Wednesday evening, 23 February 1887

Mr Paul Pfleiderer (of London) delivered an address upon this subject. He observed that it was very difficult for a man like himself not to be biased in the matter a little, but he would try and be as impartial as possible.

He had written to nearly all the makers of kneading and mixing machines in the world, asking them to send him particulars of their newest things, and they would be surprised to learn that the only reply he received came from Messrs T T Vickers of Liverpool, whose Mr Johnston had told them how much they could do with machinery, and he would now assert that a good servant could make a good loaf with a stick.

He (Mr Pfleiderer) was a strong advocate for the use of machinery in the bakery. The ancient Romans and Greeks were far more fastidious as to cleanliness than nobles of the present day. The Duke of Westminster has built a splendid bakery at Chester, and here they might expect that the bread would be kneaded by machinery. But no, it was done by hand. In olden times, slaves who made bread had to wear gloves on their hands, and have their mouths tied up, so that even their breath should not come in contact with the dough which they were making into bread for their masters. But the Duke of Westminster was satisfied to have his done by hand, to have coal and ashes in his ovens. He admitted that the ovens in his Grace's bakery might be an improvement upon the old-fashioned ovens, but he did not believe with Mr Johnston, that, in a few years, the bakery trade would fall into the hands of large factories. (This met with 'Hear, hear' and applause.)

On the contrary, there was something very peculiar happening in the bakery trade which they scarcely understood yet and although one man said it was impossible to obtain the best bread with the use of potatoes, it was a fact that in one place Nevill's in London 4,000 sacks a week were baked with potatoes. Mr Nevill attributed the growth of his trade to the uniformity of the quality of his bread. Bakers could educate their customers and the public generally to certain tastes. The public could acquire a liking for bread that was even inferior to their competitors' bread. Anyone would have a downright hard fight to beat Nevill, even if they made better bread. There was a prolonged existence for the individual baker. Indeed, small bakeries had a good chance of increasing. They could make bread with a stick. ('No, no' was the audience reaction.) Mr Pfleiderer repeated that they could make bread with a stick. There were plenty of machines, working most satisfactorily, that were nothing more than a stick, and that stick turned round, and it made dough (Met with laughter).

He quite agreed that the machines ought to be strongly built to stand the strain. Dough-making was a most complex operation. It wanted mixing and kneading at the same time. Until lately there was not a machine in the country that could do both these things, and that was the reason that they were kicked out of bakeries where the owners knew what good dough was. Attempts were made in London, 15 or 20 years ago, with a machine, bearing the name of Stevens, to improve matters. This machine was still in use, and satisfactory use, in a number of places in West End bakeries. He affirmed that engineers had not done their best to perfect baking machinery, and that there was a wide field for enterprising men.

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