A dozen is a counting term used to describe 12 of something. But when you have a baker’s dozen of bread, you have 13 pieces of baking, not 12. This may seem like a charitable gift from the baker, but the historical origin is somewhat different.
In the Middle Ages (particulary around the 13th century), baking was not an exact science and loaves of breads were made with varying sizes and weights. This made it easy for bakers to short the customer by giving them smaller loaves than what the customer needed.
To stop this, many countries implemented laws that prevented bakers from shorting the customer, usually by setting a minimum weight for a dozen loaves of bread. However, it is entirely possible for the baker to lose a few loaves of breads to accidental dropping, burning or thieves stealing them. Because the breads may come out smaller, it could not be guaranteed that a dozen loaves would be heavy enough to meet the guidelines – no matter how honest the baker was. To offset this, bakers began adding an extra loaf to ensure that they would not disobey the law (and pay a hefty fine or be seriously punished).
Another theory with less historical evidence is based on the shape of baking trays. Most baking trays are made in a 3:2 ratio and the most efficient way to place loaves of breads on these trays is a 4:5:4 hexagonal arrangement. This arrangement has the advantage of avoiding the corners, where the temperature will heat up then cool down faster, making the results less perfect. Therefore, bakers may have sold a batch of 13 loaves together instead of selling 12 and leaving one out.
Toast is one of those simple meals that anyone can make. Bread goes in, toast comes out. But some scientists decided to embark on a quest for the “perfect” toast. After spending a week toasting and tasting over two thousand slices of toast, the scientists came up with some figures.
The perfect toast should be:
- 14mm thick
- Made from pale-seeded loaf of bread taken from a fridge at 3°C
- Cooked in a 900-watt toaster set to 5 out of 6 power
- Cooked at a temperature of 154°C evenly from both sides
- Cooked for exactly 3 minutes and 36 seconds (216 seconds)
- Transferred gently to a plate that is pre-warmed to 45°C
- Immediately slathered with 68.2mg per square centimetre of butter
- Sliced once diagonally
The result of this formula is a perfectly golden-brown toast of 12:1 exterior to interior crispiness, with the “ultimate balance of external crunch and internal softness”.
Although the concept of eating two pieces of bread with meat and vegetables in between has existed since the invention of bread, the word “sandwich” is a much more recent invention.
During the 18th century, there was an aristocrat called John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich who loved to gamble. He loved gambling so much that he barely had time to eat a proper meal, so he frequently ordered simple foods from his servants.
His favourite was two pieces of bread with sliced meat in between. Every time he gambled with his friends, he would order this snack from his servants and his friends would say “the same as Sandwich!” when ordering. This playful comment stuck over time and people began officially naming the type of food a “sandwich”.
A sandwich is the perfect snack invented just for those who have no time or are too lazy.