Lunchbreak: Bakery Pretzels

Midday News

Eric Schedler, baker and owner of Muddy Fork Bakery

https://muddyforkbakery.square.site/

Muddy Fork Bakery of Bloomington, Indiana is partnering with Artisan Grain Collaborative’s Neighbor Loaves program. Since late March the program has facilitated the donation of over 12, 000 loaves to feed the hungry in the Midwest.

http://www.graincollaborative.com/neighbor-loaves

  • Artisan Grain Collaborative (AGC)  launched Neighbor Loaves to support businesses in the grain supply chain while addressing bread shortages for emergency feeding programs.
  • AGC is pleased to announce that the 20 baking partners across five states have collectively provided more than 12,000 Neighbor Loaves since its inception in March 2020.

How can you get involved?

  • Supporters buy Neighbor Loaves online from participating bakeries.
  • Loaves are made by local bakeries with at least 50% locally grown and milled organic grains, which means purchases also support local businesses (farmers, millers, etc.) during this pandemic.
  • Baked loaves are distributed to participating food pantries and community feeding organizations.
  • People in need receive local bread and purchases by community members enable local farms, mills, and bakeries to pay their employees and rent.

Neighbor Loaves can be purchased from the following participating bakeries:

Indiana

Muddy Fork Farm & Bakery – Bloomington, IN

Illinois

Three Twigs Bakery – Springfield, IL

Chicago Area

Bootleg Batard – Chicago, IL

Floriole Cafe & Bakery – Chicago, IL

Hewn – Evanston, IL

Lost Larson – Chicago, IL

Pain de Chicago – Chicago, IL

Perennial Bakers – Oak Park, IL

Publican Quality Bread – Chicago, IL

For a list of other participating Midwestern bakeries, please check out the website here.

Recipe:
Muddy Fork Bakery Pretzels

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 Tbsp water

1/2 tsp yeast

2 1/2 Tbsp melted butter or lard

3 cups Janie’s pizza flour (or all-purpose flour)

2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in water, then add the salt and flour mix until all the flour is hydrated (no dry flour remains). 
  2. Melt the butter/lard and squeeze and knead it in. Let ferment at room temperature for 2 hours.
  3. Place the dough in the fridge to cool and relax for 2 hours up to overnight. 
  4. When you are ready to form the pretzels, flatten the dough and cut 6 four-ounce rectangles from the dough.  Roll up each rectangle into a rope about 16 inches long, thicker in the middle than the ends. Let rest 10 to 20 minutes. 
  5. Roll to 36 to 42 inches long, with the middle 4 to 5 inches thicker than the rest and tapered to the ends.  You can leave a small knob of dough at the very ends.  Twist into a pretzel shape (be sure that the ends cross over and back).  Let rest, uncovered, in the fridge until firm (an hour or more).
  6. Prepare a small amount of lye dip – 1 liter of water to 40 g of food-grade lye beads (4% solution).  Always wear eye protection and gloves, and only add lye to water.
    1. Alternatively, bring a pot of water to boil with 1 – 2 cups of baking soda dissolved. You will need a slotted spoon to handle the pretzels going in and out.
  7. Dip pretzels for 5 seconds in lye or 30 seconds in boiling water, then place on a parchment-lined pan.  Use only silicone-based parchment (other materials may bond to the lye-dipped pretzels).  Sprinkle with salt and score the thick “belly” with a razor.
  8. Bake at 450 degrees until reddish-brown, 10 – 15 minutes.

Note from the baker: We dip the pretzels in a 4% lye solution for about 5 seconds before slashing and baking.  For home cooks who are not comfortable with the lye solution, you can use a baking soda solution. To make the baking soda solution:

Pour a cup or two of baking soda into a pot of boiling water (the proportions do not have to be exact) and dunk the pretzels—quick in and out.  It is a lot harder to handle them in the boiling bath without mangling them – but is a viable alternative if lye solution is not an option.

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