Dozen is an English word that was derived from an old French word douzaine which means a group of twelve. This French word was derived from the cardinals (natural numbers used to measure the sets) douze meaning twelve. If there are twelve units in one dozen then how many is a baker’s dozen? Let’s find out!
1. Meaning of Baker’s Dozen
The group of thirteen items of anything makes it a baker’s dozen. Or anything which is in the quantity of 13 rather than 12, then it is regarded as a baker’s dozen. It is often used as other names or phrases such as one more than a standard dozen, devil’s dozen, and long measure 13.
2. King Henry III
During the reign of King Henry III in the 1260s, the British bread makers were very scandalous. They often cheated customers by giving them less or under-weighted loaves of bread. The continuous complaints from the public irritated the king so much that he implemented a new law that determined the weight of a loaf. Hence, no baker should be giving less or more of the quantity than the baker’s dozen. (See Why Do We Eat Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?)
3. Extra Loaf
If any baker broke the newly established law, then they would be punished severely through beating or would even be sent to jail. Hence, to avoid being punished, the bakers started giving an extra loaf to the buyers. So even if the loaves were under-weighed, then the extra loaf would make up for the shortage in weight of a dozen. And since then, the dozen that were received from a baker became 13 instead of 12. The term baker’s dozen has been mentioned in some of the folktales and stories as well.
4. Vintage Loaf
It is also another name for a baker’s dozen. A Vintage Loaf is an extra loaf that is sold to retailers. It is a loaf of bread which is advantageous to the buyers because it is an extra piece than the number ordered. The term Vintage Loaf was recorded in 1612. (See How many ounces are in a cup?)
5. The English Law
The Assize of Bread and Ale was a 13th-century law in high-medieval England, which regulated the price, weight, and quality of the bread and beer manufactured and sold in towns, villages, and hamlets. The law was amended by the Bread Acts of 1822 and 1836, which stipulated that the loaves should be sold by the pound, or multiple thereof. Finally, it was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863 (26 & 27 Vict. c. 125). It was the first law in British history to regulate the production and sale of food. And hence, how many is a baker’s dozen was decided by the bakers soon after the law was implemented.
6. Other Bakery Related Terms
In the process of baking, there are some terms considered important and might be confusing.
- All-Purpose Flour is a mixture of hard and soft wheat flour, used for making bread, cake, etc.
- Egg wash is a mixture of one whole egg mixed with water, oil, or milk. This mixture is used for brushing the top of the desserts or bread to give them a golden shine.
- Beating is the term used for mixing different ingredients. We can use a spoon, mixer, or whisker for this purpose.
- Brulee is a term for burning the top layer, but not actually burning it. Just giving it a little golden glaze with a tool called a blowtorch. This technique is used for caramelizing the sugar on top of desserts, etc.
- Creaming is the process of beating butter or milk cream with an electric whicker or a wooden spoon.
- Fermentation is the process in which dough is mixed with yeast and allowed to rest for it to rise.
Now you know how many is a baker’s dozen and baker’s dozen origin. It is the 13 units of bread or anything you will receive. (Also see What are the Best Alternatives for Parchment Paper?)