Brief description

"Backes" are part of the rural tradition in many villages between Westerwald and Vogelsberg.

Detailed description

The origin of today’s Hessian bakery houses has one of its initial origins in the middle of the 16th century: Count Johann VI of Nassau-Dillenburg decreed in the “Holz- und Waldordnung” (Holz- und Waldordnung) of 18 January 1562: “In every village a number of common baking ovens shall be prescribed”. On the one hand, Community baking should save wood, as resources were becoming scarce in the region due to the immense consumption of wood, for example for iron smelting. On the other hand, the fire risk for the courtyards with their houses and stables, mostly built of wood, clay and straw, was reduced by a separate location of the now isolated bakeries. As a result of this regulation, numerous village community bakeries were built. Through the exchange of information – trade, marriage and wandering handicrafts – this advantageous model quickly became popular throughout Hesse.

In the middle of the 19th century, the communal bakery culture experienced a renaissance, starting from the Prussian provinces of today's Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse. In the years 1846/1847, poor harvests caused great hardship throughout Europe, including in the Kingdom of Prussia, to which the small village of Weyerbusch, in the Westerwald, belonged. When the government issued flour, Mayor Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen - who is also considered to be the founding father of the cooperative system - initiated a "Brodverein". The allocated flour was processed in a specially built bakery. The bread baked here could be distributed, at a reasonable price, to the needy population. Very quickly, the idea of the “bakhouse including bakery association” was taken up by neighbouring towns throughout the Westerwald, in the Lahn-Dill-Bergland and the Burgwald up to the Schwalm. Today there are many bakeries whose foundation stone was laid in the same period.

The art of good bread baking in the bakery has always required a high degree of experience and was a defining characteristic of the community. It began with the selection and beating of suitable wood, the night heating of the oven and the determination of the baking order. This was determined in advance by the bakery community, often the lot decided. The bread dough itself was usually individually prepared in advance according to the in-house recipe and carried to the bakery. Decisive for the success was not only the choice of flour, but also the temperature at which the loaf of bread was pushed into the oven with the slide. The time in which the bread remained in the oven was used for communicative exchange between the “bakers” and was therefore important for the cohesion of the village. This traditional village bakery was almost from the middle of the 19. to those of the 20th century integral part of local supply. As a result of technological developments, many households had their own electric oven since the mid-1950s, so that communal baking in bakeries lost more and more importance. Especially in the 1960s many bakeries were demolished. To this day, however, there are still many bakeries and bakery associations with an often long, unbroken tradition right up to the present day, which bake in an old-fashioned way and care for the village community. At present, communal baking is experiencing a rebirth in Hesse.

Text: Naturpark Lahn-Dill-Bergland

Bakery Niederweidbach

The historic Niederweidbach bakery combines in a characteristic way the bakery and the former mayor's office.
In the past, many families baked together around the clock in the bakery. The order of when which family was allowed to bake was determined in a lottery.
Cake, which was needed for the village festivities, was baked together by the women and girls in the bakery.
After the repair of the oven in 2015, the bakery is now fully functional again. For festivities this is heated again and again as before.
Until the seventies, the upper floor was the mayor's office of Niederweidbach, where marriages took place.
The public function of the bakery is illustrated by its dominant position in the town centre and a representative design: axial entrance on the gable side with carved pilasters, rich ornamental shapes on the half-timbered figures.

Due to the carvings typical of the area, the building can be dated to the time around 1800.
The last renovation of the facade was carried out in 2009 by the village community.

Translated by DeepL (www. deepl. com).

Contact and directions

Gartenstrasse 1
35649 Bischoffen Niederweidbach