BY CHRISTINE BARBOUR
An artisan is a craftsman, someone who works with his hands to create singular and distinctive works of art. In the food world, that means small batches of exceptional and wonderful things to eat. Could be cheese (think Capriole Farmstead). Could be chocolates (think BLU Boy Chocolate Café & Cakery). Could be beer (Bloomington Brewing Company and Upland Brewery Co.).
And of course it could be bread. Thanks to Eric Schedler and Katie Zukof of Muddy Fork Farm, shoppers at the local winter and summer farmers’ markets can now buy just-baked artisanal breads—crusty, fragrant, hand-kneaded loaves of whole wheat, rye, and rustic sourdough—as well as cinnamon buns, soft pretzels, and pies.
Schedler was a musician and an adjunct math professor at Ivy Tech Community College, and Zukof was the assistant director of the Local Growers’ Guild and a teacher of French and Spanish when they bought a five-acre piece of land outside Bloomington last July. The land, called Muddy Fork Farm for the creek that runs through it, was a dream about to come true for the couple, who wanted to create a sustainable, self-sufficient life.
To finance their venture, they decided to draw on their previous baking experience—Schedler’s at a co-op in his hometown of Carbondale, Illinois, and in college at Oberlin, and Zukof’s at Bloomingfoods—to fill a void they perceived at the local markets. Because of a new Indiana law that allows artisans to use home kitchens to process certain foods they sell directly to consumers, the couple avoided the complex and expensive process of getting their kitchen certified. Instead they built a brick, wood-fired oven at their farm that can bake up to 250 loaves in a single firing.
Their flour—much of it, anyway—comes from Jennie Hoene of Ewenique Icelandic Sheep Farm. Their butter, eggs, and yogurt come from Rhodes Family Farm. When they have to purchase ingredients from commercial sources, they go organic whenever possible.
This careful sourcing and the labor that goes into each hand-kneaded loaf means that the bread doesn’t come cheap. Loaves cost $5.50 at the markets, but there is a Muddy Fork Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that customers can join that provides two loaves a week at a 10 percent discount. For details, see Schedler or Zukof at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market.