Did you know October is National Pretzel Month? To celebrate, today’s blog post is guest written by Funi Daniels, co-owner of Gnarly Knots:
Guten Tag and all that rot. It’s October, and that means that it’s National Pretzel Month! It’s a magical time when the world (or anyone who understands the vast importance of bread baked to perfection) comes together to celebrate and EAT!!!
My name is Funi Daniels, and I am the co-owner of Gnarly Knots Pretzel Company. We specialize in the very best bread product on the planet: Pretzels! Today, I am here to counter the myths over the ease of making the perfect pretzel. I am here to tell you that it is no easy task, but aspiring to perfection is so darn worth it! We’ve worked years to perfect our craft. We’ve lost sleep, laughed, cried and wept over (of all things?) bread! But when we finally got it right, well….it was a thing of beauty.
Matt Finn (the partner and all around awesome beau) and I got our start in the Pretzel game as part of a ‘Iron Chef’ competition we used to do with friends in Seattle where we met. It was a German Theme and Tomato and Tenderloin were the secret ingredients. We decided to try our hands at making Pretzel Tenderloin Sandwiches with a Sundried Tomato Mustard. They were AMAZING!!!
I love the history behind the pretzel. It dates back all the way to 610 A.D. The famous man who made it all happen was a simple monk rewarding children for saying their prayers. He took scraps of bread dough and twisted them in a way that children back then used to pray. That is where the pretzel shape came from…as for the flavor? Well, that was another story. One that involves a clumsy apprentice in the kitchen, who tripped and dropped a tray of ready to bake dough onto the used ash on the floor.
Instead of getting rid of the dough, he baked it, and low and behold found that the ash brought a whole new element to the baking process that had never been seen (or tasted) before! Today, pretzel makers use this same process, but instead of using soot, we use Sodium hydroxide to dip our dough into, thus causing the same chemical reaction.
The products that we provide for artizone, our Pretzel Chips, are all started with the basic core of a baked pretzel. We take all the elements of making a pretzel: making the dough, letting it rise, portioning it, rolling it into the fabulous pretzel shape, letting it rise again and develop a skin, dipping it in lye and baking it to golden loveliness. Then we take those perfectly baked pretzels and slice them only to be rebaked into a wonderful crisp chip!
We have four flavors to date: Original (all Pretzel, twice baked!) Cheese (an awesome combination of Monterey Jack and Asiago Cheese), Caramelized Onion (we do slow cook onions until they are caramelized, then grind them down into a slurry which we dip each chip into before baking) or Sofrito.
The Sofrito is my favorite and in fact an old family recipe. My family hails from Puerto Rico. Any Puerto Rican worth his weight in rice has a family Sofrito recipe and mine is no different. The core flavor of Sofrito is Onion, Pepper and Garlic.
Watch our spot on Chicago’s Best, where you can see how we run our operation, including the illusive question on how to twist a pretzel and how to ‘stuff’ a pretzel! Know that we love our product so much that we often lose sleep over it. We want our pretzels to be the very best you’ve ever tasted, whether it be soft and lovely or crisp and delicious. Thank you for reading and Gluchliches Oktoberfest!!