Home-baked bread and Flammkuchen (by Johann Schimmel, translated by Diana Lambing)

The main occupation of the Uihel villagers was agriculture. One of the main crops that was grown was wheat, which was used for feeding the population. Every house had a large clay oven built into the living room, bedroom or summer kitchen. Bread would be baked throughout the year in one of the ovens. This was a job for the housewife.

Baking bread twice a week was no easy task. The flour was stored in several flour sacks on the beams in the attic. Every now and then, the sacks would be shaken up to stop the contents from settling. The housewife would bring the flour down from the attic into the warm kitchen the day before baking, to allow the flour to warm up. Then she would sieve the flour into the bowl and would form a hollow in the centre to which the yeast or sour-dough would be added. Finally, lukewarm water would be added to make the yeast rise and it was then left until the yeast was well risen. Then the rest of the flour was added with water, or if there was any whey available, this would be mixed with the water. Then some more flour was added and it would all be kneaded into a light dough. Only when the dough no longer stuck to the bowl would the housewife stop kneading, bathed in sweat. The dough would be covered with a fine, white hemp tablecloth. Two hours later it would be ready for baking.

Meanwhile, the oven would be heated up using stalks of corn-cobs, or straw. The glowing ashes would be turned over with a broom and spread evenly over the oven with a long-handed wooden shovel. The dough was divided into several circular bread tins and shoved into the oven with the wooden shovel. The three to five loaves of bread would be placed close to each other in the oven. After about two hours, the bread would be ready.

Every time bread was baked, 'Flammkuchen' would also be baked. The dough was rolled out, put onto a wide baking tray and topped with sides of bacon strewn with salt. The Flammkuchen took half an hour to bake and was best eaten warm by the children.

The small village of Uihel / Neusiedel had no bakery of its own. It was only after 1970 that the Collective built an oven in Josef Wolz's house where, for a short time, a master baker from Marienfeld would bake bread for the villagers of Uihel. Owing to a lack of bakers joining the trade, and the decline of the Collective economy, the bakery in Uihel, which had become unviable, closed down too.

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The two pictures above show Elisabeth Schimmel (née Staub) heating the oven for bread baking in 1982, and Johann and Susanna Lambing (née Engelmann) with a loaf of home-baked bread and Flammkuchen in 1972.

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