The Baking House

For many decades baking houses were relevant for the village’s social life and as meeting points. They functioned for baking, frying, searing and drying of food. Especially fruits like pears and prunes were preserved for the winter (“Hoozeln un daerre Kwaetschen”). Long before there were newspapers or radios, news came from inns, gatherings of women while doing spinning and sewing, but foremost from the baking houses.  While the bread or the cake was baking, communal news and local gossip were exchanged. (“Did you hear about such and such, they have to get married”). But all that happened a long time ago.
Datterode had six of these community baking houses, which were built by the political commune. However, they had to be supported by the social commune. Before the first baking house appeared most homes had their own baking hearth. In the past this led to many small fires, which were caused by the primitive construction of the oven. That in turn often led to catastrophe for homes were covered with thatched roofs.
For that reason in 1612 at the village greens it was announced under the bell (which means by official order) that all private ovens had to be shut down. Parallel to the creation of other structures baking houses were supposed to be built. The 30 year war that erupted in 1618 ruined this intend. The inhabitants of the village got away with a scare since they had different worries. (Datterode was badly damaged by burnings in 1637. See Geschichte). With whatever meager items could be rescued the people tried to establish themselves again. First above all they had to have a roof over their head including the very own baking oven in order to meet basic needs. Consequently the fire danger stayed present. Even cats, so the history claims, caused fires for they rested in the warm ashes. To eliminate this danger once and for all, in 1739 the mayors were held responsible for enforcing all open fire places to be enhanced with fire protective doors.
The seven year war (1756-1763) left bad damage in the local forests and was blamed for changes about to happen. I a proclamation it was said ‘because of enormous wood consumption in the homestead baking ovens, in every village urgently 1 to 2 community baking houses had to be built’. It is not known why the village of Datterode responded merely 75 years later upon this request. In 1842 the first two baking houses were erected. In the lower part of the village (today named “Alte Strasse” meaning old road) and the “Steingasse”, they were registered under number 59 ½ with the fire regulations department.

Katharina Wolf (left) and Minna Claus (right)

Not far away from the main road at the ascent of the “Kirchrain” (Church Hill) the baking facility is under number 67 ½.

Right side shows the baking-house at the “Kirchrain”

One year later, in 1843, two more baking houses appeared. One in the “Hintergasse” (today “Brunnenstrasse”) corner “Enge Gasse” with number 22 ½ and the preliminary one by the Main Road (today “Leipziger Strasse”) at the “Wieberschbach” across the entrance to the “Hintergasse” with the number 84 ½.

Baking house “Hintergasse”/corner “Enge Gasse” beginning of the 1960s

Baking house “Wieberschbach” (left Emma Gier, right Minna Wieditz)

Due to the rising number of residents in 1900 a building boom occurred.  Therefore the accommodating capacity of the existing baking houses was no longer sufficient.  As the next project a baking house with integrated large animal scale was built at the village greens, registered under number 18 ½ with the fire regulations department.


Baking house with adjacent large animal scale at the village greens in the early 1960s

For the inhabitants in the “Hasselbach” and “Falltor” area the route to the baking house, especially in rainy weather, was a straining affair. One large sheet cake under each arm or even a bread board with 6 loafs on the shoulder was a physical ordeal for the women in charge of baking.

Women with bread boards to and from the baking house (Christine Beck, Marlene Hose, Minna Hartung)

In February 1936 a wish was fulfilled for the people of ‘Hasselbach, Falltor and Stadtweg’ and the sixth and last baking house was erected in the former pastor’s garden close to the Battenberg Linden Tree. (Linde am Barbarossabrunnen) The entrance faced the ‘Hasselbachweg’ and the backside pointed towards the current public pool drive.

Photo on the left side the baking house “Hasselbach”( wedding parade
of Walter and Annemarie Hartmann 1958)

The excitement about the new baking house however, was shortly lived. Due to establishing the drive to the public pool and surveying of the surrounding properties it was destroyed at the beginning of the 1960th.
In the meantime the activity in the public baking houses had ceased to some extent. A few years after the currency reformation (1948) most households were equipped with a gas- or electric stove. In addition in 1948 two professional bakeries opened up for business (Jaeger and Mark). Fresh buns and breads daily – what more could you ask for? Even the “sheet cake” that could not be spared at special occasions was provided. Prepared at home it was finished by the baker at his shop for a small price. Many things became more convenient. No one had to split wood for the baking house any longer, the oven at home did not need to be used etc. This resulted in one baking house after the other vanishing. The first ones to go were partially on private property of the Vogler (“Kirchrain”) and Hartmann estates (“Hintergasse corner “Enge Gasse”).
The baking house “Weibersbach” was still used for many years. For many visitors primarily from Westphalia and Hamburg area the weekly baking day was extra ordinary. Firing up the oven, the “shooting” in and out of the bread loafs and cakes, was observed with great attention. Praise was high when small samples of the tasty bread-cake were handed out.


Mrs. Fisher, a visitor from Hamburg and women of Datterode (Elise Weisshaar, Elise Hose, Emma Schindler,
Viktoria Hartmann) at the ‘Wieberschbach baking house  beginning of the 1960s

Visiting guest Gertrud Steichert from Werl/Westphalia (see Heimatverein Geschichte) said 1958: This taste you cannot buy anywhere, it only exists in Datterode in the baking house. The bread cake, also called bacon- or onion cake is called “Lusekochen” (Losekuchen) in the local tongue. The taste is unique with grated apples or blue-berries. The latter was found in abundance as long as there was bark-peeling of the oak trees happening in the surrounding forests.

Fresh bread and fresh “Lusekochen” in the baking house at the “Steingasse” (Anna Fischer and Elise Wolf)

In the process of widening the main through road (B 7) the baking house at the “Weibersbach” was dismantled and so were 4 Tudor homes namely of the families Sippel, Sandrock, Beck and Gebhardt. Part of the former pub “Christel’s Jaegerheim”, today still known as “Christel’s”, also fell victim to that venture.

At the same time the community of Datterode was applying for becoming a federal approved recreation site. For that reason the first B & B facilities were trying to integrate the baking house at the village greens as a tourist attraction and to preserve it for generations to come. In 1962 however, not only the baking house but also 6 historical chestnut trees, the village linden tree at the village greens had disappeared from the scene. These deeds were not accepted lightheartedly. The oldest baking house at the “Steingasse” of 1842 survived the destruction campaign. At the end of the 1970th it was by hand restored (except for the original oven) by a handful of loyal locals.  Even though the wear of time has left its mark it is used; mainly for preparing spit-roast piglet.

The formerly renovated baking house at the “Steingasse”

The Heimatverein, especially concerned about the historic village greens and its surroundings, built a new baking house close to the old location in 2002. With historical blue prints, old fashioned tradesmen ship (framer Walter Wieditz and masonry Hans-Werner Hose) and uncounted voluntary hours of labor an all-round beloved facility was created. Not only does it beckon with its delicious bread and “Lusekochen” but also serves as great enhancement for various performances around the village greens.

View from the side to the new baking house at the village green

Evident tribute to the craftsmen W. Wieditz and H.-W. Hose

The combination of the historically correct reestablished village greens (see Anger ) and the statue of the ‘Gaensekerl’ (see Photoarchives 'Gänsekerle' ) is undoubtedly an optical enrichment for the village centre. May many generations to come use our baking house and experience how hard and difficult it can be to get the daily bread on the table. But also how delicious this local specialty is. This taste, that cannot be achieved by any other not even the best baker.
If you, dear reader, ever have the chance to sample the baking house bread of Datterode, you will agree!

Winter scene around the new baking house by the Heritage Association (Heimatverein) at the village green

Our honorable board member Karl Beck wrote the following poem in our dialect for the opening ceremony of the new baking house:

Dande Eliese


Kummo rewwer, ech well de mo woas wiese,
doas neuwe Backhüs uff ahlem Gründ,
Scheene esses worrn die Jungen hann echt woas gekounnt.
D’r Reinhard un sinn Friedchen hanns glich üsbrowiert.
HÄ häts Fier gemacht, un ES hätt’n Deich gesiert.
Met em Wellchen Höls un em Oarm vull Beechen Stang’n,
Zweihünndert Groad, brüchst nit veele Backhöls mehr z’ langen.
Groadeüs werd ingeschossen, nit quär,
erscht doas Brud un denn den Kuchen hinger här.
Hann goar gekleibet, des’ses nach su veel Liede gibt,
dän doas selwer gemachte Brud su gut schmeckt.
Eu där Lusekuchen mit Äbbel oder Zebbel un Späck,
su schnell kannste goar net g’gügge, do esse weg.
Määchen hässt Rächt, backt widder unse Brud,
dänen, die hinger üch drinne kummen, schmeckt’s genäu su gut.
Wie zu allen Zieten, ohne Räuch kenn Fier,
ohne Hubben un Mals eu kenn gescheides Bier.
Endlich hätt unser Anger wedder enn Gesecht,
s’äs gut, dess’n dach nach su henn hann kricht.
Eu das neuwe Backhüs äs änn gut gelungen,
se sunn scheene bedankt se, die Jungen.
Wenn’s Backhüs räucht un die Kastännerchen blehn,
in Gedanken die ahlen Zieten v’rräbber wehn.


Here the translation (hope it is understandable):

Ant Eliese

Come on over, I will even show you
the new baking house on old ground
it had become beautiful, the boys made something absolutely brilliant.
Reinhard and his Friedchen have just tried.
He has wood-fired and she has leavened the dough.
With a “wave” and an armful of beech wood poles,
two hundred degrees, not a desire for lots of wood.
Predetermined, is straight, not across,
first the bread and then the cake behind.
Did not think that there are so many people
who made themselves the bread tastes so good.
Even the bread cake with apples and onion and bacon
as fast as you can not see at all, since it is gone.
Girl, you are right: continue baking our bread,
those who are coming after you, it tastes just as good.
Where there is smoke, there's fire, we know
without hops and malt, not a good beer.
At last our village green has a face again,
it is good that they did so well.
The new baking house was also well done,
let us thank those boys.
When the baking house smokes and chestnut trees blossom,
the old days drag past in mind.



> Photoarchives „Impressionen rund um die Backhäuser“