BY JULIE GRAY
“My hand is in every loaf of bread we bake,” says Eric Schedler, who founded Muddy Fork Farm & Bakery with his wife, Katie Zukof, in 2010. And since Muddy Fork produces 200 loaves of bread a week, he’s got a lot on his hands.
While Schedler is up at 2 a.m. each Saturday to do the actual baking, the process really begins on Thursday morning, when he sets the first of the three fires needed to heat the 5-by-7 1/2-foot wood-fired brick oven to the requisite 600ºF.
It’s also on Thursdays that Schedler makes the butter that is the essence of Muddy Fork’s popular croissants. He says he leaves the making of the croissants to his five part-time employees, because, unlike bread-making, “croissant-making, though labor-intensive, is actually not all that hard.” And, he says, it’s the challenge of making bread that he relishes.
Muddy Fork breads include rustic and sunflower sourdough, Jewish rye, seeded kamut, sesame whole wheat, focaccia, and baguette. Schedler and Zukof also make granola and pastries. All are sold year-round at Bloomingfoods and at farmers’ markets in Bloomington and Indianapolis.
For those who would like to learn to bake their own bread, Muddy Fork offers workshops at its bakery, located off a curvy, wooded road north of Bloomington. Workshop participants spend an entire Saturday alongside Schedler, and while the breads bake, the class makes — and consumes — pizza. Schedler and Zukof also invite class members into their house to learn how to adapt baking techniques to a home oven.
Each workshop has a different focus. At the artisan bread workshop on January 16, students will learn how to make sourdough. On Valentine’s Day, students are invited to come with a partner to make croissants and cookies. And at the bagels and flatbreads course in March, students will make Montreal-style bagels. Classes, which are limited to 10 students, cost $75 per person, which covers a pizza lunch as well as the recipes and the four loaves of bread or the dozen croissants or bagels each participant takes home.
For more information or to register, visit muddyforkbakery.com/bread-classes.