The Industrial Age would impact every aspect of the bread-making industry in Britain and then other parts of Europe. The agricultural sector would seek ways of how to increase crop production. The farmer would also look into growing grains of a finer quality. The baker’s oven undergoes important transformations especially after the 1830’s while new baking methods were introduced. The milling industry was then run by steam powered machines whose metal rollers change the long standing traditional methods of crushing grain. In Georgian times the introduction of sieves made of Chinese silk helped to produce finer, whiter flour and white bread gradually became more widespread. Tin from the flourishing mines in Cornwall began to be used to make baking tins. Bread baked in tins was sliced and toasted - and it was not long before the sandwich was invented. Rapid demographic changes, as a result of the Industrial Revolution sees the growth of cities best described by the works of Charles Dickens. As large numbers of farmworkers moved from the country into cities to work in the new factories, less food was produced. When the Corn Laws were passed prohibiting the importation of grain, starvation became a serious problem.
The Corn Laws were passed to protect British wheat growers. The duty on imported wheat was raised and price controls on bread lifted. Bread prices rose sharply.
The bread assize laws were abolished and with it the standard weights for loaves. In London, bakers had to weigh each loaf in the customer's presence. Guilds also lost most of their political influence.
Wholemeal bread, eaten by the military, was recommended as being healthier than the white bread eaten by the aristocracy. It was not until the 1960’s, however, that such understanding would start to challenge the well established tradition of the nutritional value of white bread.
The bee-hive oven would be gradually replaced by the side-flue oven.
Rollermills were invented in Switzerland. Whereas stonegrinding crushed the grain, distributing the vitamins and nutrients evenly, the rollermill broke open the wheat berry and allowed easy separation of the wheat germ and bran. This process greatly eased the production of white flour but it was not until the 1870s that it became economic. Steel rollermills gradually replaced the old windmills and watermills.
With large groups of the population near to starvation the Corn Laws were repealed and the duty on imported grain was removed. Importing good quality North American wheat enabled white bread to be made at a reasonable cost. Together with the introduction of the rollermill this led to the increase in the general consumption of white bread - for so long the privilege of the upper classes.
Eliza Acton, appalled by the adulteration of bread in England by bakers who augmented the flour content by adding other additives termed as ‘improvers’, published ‘The English Bread Book’ exposing the tricks and bad practices of the bread-making trade and encouraging housewives to bake their own bread.
The Smoke Abatement Act was ratified in England. The bakers found it impossible to avoid the smoke generated through their chimneys during the baking process. So in 1868 the Master Bakers Protection Society was formed in London to oppose the Act. Twenty years later, this same Society became the National Association of Master Bakers.
The National Association of Master Bakers was formed in England.
Fannie Merritt Farmer published The Original Boston Cooking School Cookbook. Farmer’s chapter on ‘Bread and Bread-making’ includes details about types of wheat, milling, flour and leavening agents.