The manly art of baking

As a guy who bakes a lot, I get sort of tired of seeing baking portrayed as some cutesy thing that mommy bloggers do while their toddlers crawl around the kitchen, licking flour off the flour. Nothing against mommy bloggers, understand. Or toddlers. But sometimes I wish there were a more, you know, manly depiction of baking.

Enter the sixteenth-century Swiss artist Jost Ammam, who produced this woodcut for The Book of Trades, a collection of illustrated poems:

engraving of a sixteenth-century baker

Here’s the poem that accompanied it, originally written in German by Hans Sachs and translated here by Theodore K. Rabb:

The hungry are by me well fed
Wholesome rye and wheaten bread,
Prepared from corn and wheat and salt,
Weighed correctly, free of fault.
My leaves of pastry, twists, and rolls
All delight discerning souls.
My egg- and pan-cakes, widely sought,
Oft at Easter time are bought. 1

Ammam’s baker has kind of a wild look in his eye as he muscles that loaf out of the oven, as if Conan the Barbarian had gotten tired of eating raw meat and built himself a bakery. (I mean, it isn’t like he could count on Red Sonja to make him a baloney sandwich.) I’d think he’d whomp discerning souls upside their discerning heads with his peel if they complained about his bread. You better believe it’s free of fault.

Hearken well, o ye consumers of crusty comestibles! Don’t piss off your baker. You have been warned.

  1. Hans Sachs, A Sixteenth-century Book of Trades: Das Ständebuch, trans. Theodore K. Rabb (Palo Alto, Calif.: The Society for the Promotion of Science and Scholarship, 2009).

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