A Dozen, is it really twelve?

While discussing the baking of bread, I thought of a dozen rolls (a common serving for rolls). So you may have heard that a dozen is the number 12. The etymology (history of the word) indicates that (the English word “dozen” coming from the french “douzaine,” meaning group of twelve). However, ultimately a dozen can refer to any standardized grouping of things by a certain numbers. Balloonists are rumored to carry 18 balloons (for those who have seen King of the Hill), so 18 is a “Balloonist’s dozen.”

You may have also heard of a baker’s dozen, or 12 + 1 = 13. There are many different hypotheses behind this. Wikipedia has an article that suggests baker’s would need to weigh their rolls and in the event one was a tad light for customers they would add an extra roll (a type of insurance).


As yeast was used to leaven bread as mentioned in a previous post, prior to the ability to grow yeast independently through cell culturing, yeast was obtained from skimming the head of beer (as mentioned) or from taking a small uncooked portion of bread from a previous dough. Some hypotheses exist that the extra bit of dough to be used in making the next bread roll was added to the dozen rolls made from dough (this is still done in making sourdough bread). So perhaps this was the origin of a baker’s dozen.

Interested in learning about baking a dozen? How about a cake making course that I am sure you would enjoy! Cake making.

If you like the bit that you learned I could also use a small bit of thanks.