Dr. Oetker Stories

The History of Baking

The pharmacist Dr. August Oetker made a decisive contribution to making baking easier and more successful with his Backin. We take you on a journey through the history of baking.

The History of Baking

17.5.2024 History

For over 130 years, Dr. Oetker has stood primarily for baking and guaranteed enjoyment - always focused on the wishes and needs of our consumers. On International Baking Day on May 17, we ask ourselves: How did it all begin? When did mankind start baking and when did cakes come into existence? This takes us far back into the past:

From Bread to Cake – The History of Baking

Thousands of years have passed before the type of baking we know today. Over 6,000 years ago, the Egyptians were already using yeast to loosen bread dough. The Old Testament also mentions the art of loosening dough when making bread with sourdough and yeast.

The ancient Egyptians revered grain and its processing into bread and pastries as a sacred art. The bread was offered as a sacrifice to the gods. The pastries were given to the deceased on their journey to the afterlife. They were baked on hot stones or in hot ashes.

Until the 19th century, baking focused in large parts of the population on bread making and thus on the supply of this staple food. Eating cake was a pure luxury that only nobles, princes and kings could afford, if at all.

It was only with increasing industrialization and growing prosperity in the 19th century that baking became more accessible to the middle classes. However, home baking was still very laborious for housewives, if they could afford it. Households were in no way equipped with suitable ovens comparable to those of today. Instead, people were forced to take the dough they made themselves to the baker, who had a suitable oven, or to the communal bakehouse in the village on certain baking days.

Dr. Oetker 1893 first baking powder packaging

1893: Original Backin is Introduced

It was not only the baking process itself that was laborious for a long time. The preparation of the dough also presented some challenges. Rising was not guaranteed, as suitable leavening agents were neither available or reliable. Although baking powder had been available since around the middle of the 19th century, its quality varied greatly and its use often led to an undesirable aftertaste. In 1893, the Bielefeld pharmacist Dr. August Oetker achieved the decisive breakthrough with his baking powder Backin. His product was easy to use, guaranteed to succeed and absolutely tasteless. With this, Oetker laid the foundations for his
company's success. Thanks to technological advances, baking developed into a commercial industry in the 20th century. Automated machines made it possible to produce baked goods on a large scale and sell them in supermarkets and bakery chains.

The forms and motives of home baking changed again and again over the course of the 20th century with its two world wars and changing social conditions. The change in the role of women in family, work and leisure played a decisive role in this. The desire for self-determination and self-realization, as well as the increasing professional activity of women, left less time for household tasks such as baking. This led to a growing demand for modern products that could save time and effort.

1971: The first range of baking mixes is launched in Germany

The first Dr. Oetker baking mixes were introduced in 1971 with nut cake and marble cake. Due to growing demand, these rather simple box cakes were soon joined by new variants and more sophisticated cakes and cake mixes as well as dough mixes for creative baking.

1972: Whipped cream: a low-calorie and low-fat alternative to conventional whipped cream (82% less fat)

1977: Introduction of Mixi box cake mix, which could be mixed with eggs and liquid directly in the tin and then baked.

The aspect of making work easier and saving time also led to the introduction of a small box cake mix in 1977, which could be baked directly in the tin: "Mixi". In 1989, baking mixes specifically for the microwave were introduced to make baking even easier.

1989: Baking mixes for the microwave

1999: Launch of the “Trend baking ideas” range Mole cake: “Baking mix with the highest annual sales of all time”

2011: Dr. Oetker takes over the decorating range from Schwartauer Werke. 

A total of 67 items form a varied portfolio that can be used to transform cakes and pastries into absolute eye-catchers in no time at all. 

2018: The trendy "Mermaid" baking mix not only enchants children. It is available in stores for a short time. 

2024: A breakthrough in German retail. Dr. Oetker's Low-Fat Black Cocoa impresses with its intense, black color and naturally colors doughs or creams.

Every year, we launch creative, delicious and innovative baking and decorating products worldwide. For lots of baking fun and for everyone!