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1916 Field Bakery Schedule 

By Steve Karoly

In the U.S. Army of World War I, six men could bake enough bread to sustain a regiment of Doughboys. With one Army Field Bake Oven No. 1 at their disposal, this squad of bakers molded some 756 loaves of Army garrison bread each twenty-fours hours.

Each bakery unit -- the unit was the basic element of a bakery company -- produced seven doughs each day, according The 1916 Quartermaster Manual. At two pounds per loaf, each batch, or "dough" in baker's terms, yielded 108 loaves, enough to feed 216 soldiers for one day. When you multiply that times seven, one unit produced 1,512 rations of garrison bread daily.

These bakers could only produce such large quantities by keeping a tight schedule. They set the first dough at 1800 and pulled the last pan from the oven one day later.

Importance of the production schedule

To make this schedule work, everything the bakers did fell right into place. They started in the early evening by setting the first dough using the straight-dough method. Then like a newborn on a strict feeding schedule, they set one new dough every hour and a half.

Since each bakery unit only had two dough troughs in which to mix the doughs, they could only set the first two doughs in the troughs. To keep production flowing, the bakers had to use five of the seven sponge cans provided the unit to set consecutive sponges.

The like a symphonic orchestra, production flowed throughout the morning hours into the daylight. The first dough was mixed in trough number one. After it fermented for around six hours, was punched and then fermented for another half-hour, the bakers would put the dough out on the work-bench. As soon as a pair of bakers started molding the first dough into loaves, a third baker mixed another dough.

Not one piece of equipment stood unused for long. After the unit's two troughs were being used for straight-doughs, the bakers set sponge doughs in the sponge cans at regular intervals. As the first straight-dough became ready for the bench, it was time to make the first sponge into a dough. An hour and a half later, the second straight-dough was turned out onto the bench.

To get an idea of how this process flowed, read this excerpt from the 1916 edition of the Quartermaster Manual. It best describes the bakery production schedule.

Production schedule

"Generally the straight-dough process and the sponge and dough process should be combined as follows:

  1. "At 6 p.m. set a straight-dough in a trough, using 165 pounds of flour, 3 pounds of dried yeast, 2 pounds each of salt, sugar, and lard, and about 12 gallons of water. (This includes the water in which the dried yeast is soaked.) This will be panned at about 6 a.m. and baked at about 7 a.m. It is assumed that about 7 pounds of flour will be used in dusting, making a total of 172 pounds, which is sufficient for 216 rations.

  2. "At 7:30 p.m. set a straight-dough in the other dough trough, using the recipe given above. This will be panned about 7:30 a.m.

  3. "At 9 p.m. set a sponge in a sponge can, using 85 pounds of flour, 2 pounds of dried yeast, and 6-1/2 gallons of water. This should be made into a dough at about 6 a.m. (using a dough trough after the first straight dough is removed,) at which time the remaining ingredients -- 80 pounds flour, 5-1/2 gallons water and 2 pounds each of salt, sugar, and lard -- should be added.

  4. "At 11:30 p.m. set a sponge in the same manner as No. 3, to be made into a dough at 7:30 a.m. (using the trough in which the second straight dough was set) and to be panned at 11:30 a.m.

"Other sponges should be set at 1 a.m., 2:30 a.m., and 4 a.m., as described, to be panned at about 1 p.m., 2:30, p.m., and 4 p.m., respectively.

It is noted that at 6 a.m. No. 1 sponge can will be available for a second sponge, and others may follow regularly at intervals of one and one-half hours, so as to make the process continuous. If two shifts of 12 hours each are made, the day shift would set the doughs and sponges for the night shift, and visa versa. Some bakers prefer to set but one straight-dough and thereafter use the second trough for mixing the sponges, which are transferred to the sponge cans."

The bakery production schedule as outlined in the 1916 Quartermaster Manual:

Dough No. Set Dough Pan Dough Load Oven
1. 1800 0600 0700
2. 1930 0730 0830
3. 2100 0900 1000
4. 2330 1130 1230
5. 0100 1300 1400
6. 0230 1430 1500
7. 0400 1600 1700

Click for information on field bread production.

Return to Bread Baking in World War I Army


Deitrck, Capt. L.L., ed. Manual for Army Bakers. War Dept. Doc. 563. Washington: GPO, 1916. 123pp. This manual also contains a field bakery production schedule, which differed slightly from the schedule in the Quartermaster Manual.

War Department. Manual for the Quartermaster Corps United States Army. Volume 1 of 2. War Dept. Doc. 562. Washington: GPO, 1916. 802pp. Information on the field bakery schedule is found on pp. 429-30.

October 1999

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