Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Proof is in the Crumb

Matija Homemade Breads

While growing up in the Buckeye State, Matt Swint’s Friday night fare was a little unorthodox. Instead of picking up the phone and ordering a pizza to be delivered, his Slovenian born relatives looked forward to gathering in the kitchen and making homemade pies piled high with bubbling cheese and surrounded by a crust dreams are made of. His family’s table was a reflection of traditional dishes that gave a nod to the countries between which Slovenia is nestled, Italy and Austria. Made-by-hand pasta, sausage, and sauerkraut were dishes that made regular appearances, but it was the fresh from the oven, brown crusty bread that took center stage upon the table. Although Matt never thought of turning his rolodex of family inspired recipes into a career, sharing the food he loved with the people of Central Ohio seemed inevitable.

Prior to starting his business, Matt attended art school at The Ohio State University and worked in several restaurants, including Rotolo’s Italian Pizzeria. He shared that he gained an invaluable amount of knowledge about the inner-workings of the food industry and the craft of baking from the locally owned and operated pizzeria. After years of experience, a lot of research, and vacillating between a few options, he decided to jump into the food truck business and opened PerZoot. The food he served from the confines of his small kitchen was based on childhood staples and sandwiches like his Arista di Maiale (spiced pork loin with sautéed onions, arugula, and local chevre on focaccia) soon became crowd favorites. Matt realized that his customers liked his sandwiches, but he couldn’t help but notice that they raved about the grains between which these delectable ingredients were piled. He quickly realized a calling to focus on his bread, and so he parked his truck, moved his operation to The Food Fort, and started baking artisanal breads under his new name, Matija Homemade Breads.

Matija Homemade Breads are made by hand and are influenced by traditional Italian specialty loafs and rolls. Airy ciabatta, Old World focaccia, and chewy stecca (Italian breadsticks) are amongst some of his most delicious and popular offerings. Just like the cuisine in Slovenia, Matt pays homage to Austrian influences on his food and showcases it within his classic Bavarian pretzel rolls. A style all his own, his signature knotted pretzel rolls contain both whole wheat and rye flours that create a visually pleasing series of tiny specs in the dough. I was lucky enough to visit with Matt on a day he was baking ciabatta and pretzel rolls to hear more about his story. As I patiently watched and waited for the bread to take shape, Matt explained how when you are a baker, time and temperature are everything. His goal with each and every item he bakes is to take as much time as is needed to get the most flavor out of his ingredients, in fact, Matt’s typical day begins at 4am! His goal is for his bread to be as fresh as possible for his customers, which currently includes an assortment of chefs and truck owners. As I watched him turn out knot after perfectly twisted knot of dough he confessed that he is choosy about the ingredients he selects for his products, including local and organic flours. I can attest that the wait is well worth the reward of fresh baked, still warm from the oven bread.

You can find Matija Homemade Breads at Swoop! Truck, Bebe at the Hey Hey, Bleu & Fig, Challah Food Truck, Ajumama, Strongwater Food and Spirits, Kenny's Meat Wagon and That Food Truck. Not only does Matt look forward to getting his delicious breads into local retail establishments, but his future plans include partnering with Dan Kraus chef/owner of That Food Truck on a new restaurant and bakery in Italian Village. Set to open the fall of 2014, Baba’s (Slovenian for grandma) Backyard promises to deliver a menu combining the strengths of its two owners. With the new brick and mortar establishment, Matt hopes to extend his current offerings to include special occasion breads and seasonal specialties available for pick up at the retail space of the restaurant. In the interim, Matt continues to make delicious breads and perfect recipes that get tested by his toughest critique and budding chef, his 11 year old daughter.

Pretzel Rolls

The Matija Homemade Bread pretzel rolls (pictured left) traveled 0 miles to Columbus, while it is a mystery where the pretzel rolls (pictured right) found at Kroger were baked, not to mention there were a few unrecognizable ingredients.

Matt recommends storing your Matija Homemade Breads in a paper bag with the cut side down to keep as much air out as possible. If you happen to find any leftover, immediately place it in the freezer to extend its life.


Why You Might Want to Rethink Going Gluten Free

Pretzel Bread Pudding w/ Peanut Butter Sauce

Four Matija Homemade Bread pretzel rolls were used in this recipe. Day-old bread works best when making bread puddings, as the slightly dried-out texture better absorbs the custard.

Click on the recipe cards to print your copy:


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