One of life’s great mysteries lie in the possibility that just one conversation or interaction can take us down an unanticipated path, forever changing the trajectory of our plans. It was one such serendipitous moment that led Alexis Faraci, owner of the Bronx Baking Co., to specialize in her company’s signature product: hand-rolled German style pretzels.
Four years ago, Alexis founded her wholesale enterprise on City Island. Though the company initially offered a wider variety of products, the decision to focus solely on their now popular line of German style pretzels came after a fortuitous conversation Alexis had with a friend from Germany, who stated he could not find a good pretzel in New York and recommended she try making one. Not one to turn down a challenge -- (meet her and you will instantly see her spirited demeanor) -- Alexis went on to do the arduous work of researching and creating the company’s signature recipe.
Though she had a lot of German friends and had been to Germany a few times, Alexis knew little about the process of baking German style pretzels from scratch. As she explained to Bronx Narratives during a recent on-site conversation, “Baking is science. Cooking is a bit more fluid but baking isn’t like that. Especially wholesale baking. It needs to be consistent. The magic I supply is probably single-minded obsession. I always say if you can be single-minded about something, you can get really, really good at it.”
Steeped and committed to the research process, Alexis first went online and found German recipes that she translated into English. She then made spreadsheets, noting unique variations and possibilities. She even traveled to Germany with the sole purpose of shadowing and working alongside local bakers.
In the end, Alexis tested out everything she learned, soliciting ideas and feedback on each iteration of her recipe from family and friends. She took detailed notes and continued adjusting until she came to create the base recipe used in all of the Bronx Baking Co.’s products: a mixture of high-gluten flour (which gives the pretzel its chewy consistency), yeast, flour, water, sugar and salt. The ingredients are mixed into a dough which is cut, hand-rolled and dipped in a lye bath before baking.
But the happenstance and hard work surrounding the Bronx Baking Company’s story doesn’t end there. In fact, the past four years of the company’s growth could easily be classified as a quintessential Bronx tale.
Just as Alexis began shifting the company’s product line to focus solely on pretzels, the craft beer movement was taking off in the Bronx, with ventures like the Bronx Brewery opening up. Looking to meet the projected growth and demand for its pretzel products, Alexis sought to relocate the company’s production facility to the South Bronx, where she also happens to live.
For months she discussed her need for a new commercial space to operate out of with everyone she met. And, with help and advice from another Bronx business owner who operates a restaurant near her apartment, Alexis found her company’s current location: a spacious, sunlit commercial loft space in Port Morris.
Some might say that Alexis was always meant to open up a business in the Bronx. Though she grew up in Westchester, she has a long history in the borough: her mother spent years working at Evander Childs High School and other schools in the area, and her Italian-American family still resides in the house her great-grandparents bought long ago on Arthur Avenue.
Her deep roots and hard work have helped her establish the Bronx Baking Co. among a long-standing line of bread companies in the borough, many of which have been around for generations.
Moreover, by focusing on producing a unique, high-quality product, the Bronx Baking Co. has helped distinguished itself from competitors beyond the borough. As Alexis shared, “Our pretzels are based on a quality proposition. That’s our thing - it’s a quality product. And it’s specifically German [style]. It's not New York. It's not Philly. It's not New York Superpretzel. We are always going to be this Bronx pretzel.”
Where to Get The Bronx Baking Co.’s Pretzels
The Bronx Baking Co. is a wholesale company (i.e. you can’t randomly walk into their space and buy a pretzel when you’re craving one). Their pretzels can be found at local businesses such as the Gun Hill Brewery and the Bronx Brewery, as well as several establishments throughout the five boroughs. You can also purchase the pretzels online, where they can be mailed or delivered to you.
(Don’t fret - the company is hoping to get more distribution in the Bronx so people who live in the Bronx, or people who come to the Bronx to shop, can find the pretzels in more locations throughout the borough.)
If you’re having a hard time choosing what to order, take Alexis’ advice: “Hands down the best seller is the classic, salted, three-ounce pretzel. Everyone loves it.”
How To Eat The Bronx Baking Co.’s Pretzels
If you have had a chance to check out the Bronx Baking Co.’s social media feeds, you will see that Alexis and her team spend a lot of time crafting creative pairings for their products. That’s because their pretzels can go with just about anything.
Should you want to switch up the Americanized approach (i.e. smothering on some form of mustard), Alexis recommends pairing your pretzel with butter or cheese. As she explained, “Pretzel dough is super pliable. It’s very forgiving and you can do a lot with it. It’s also really versatile dough and really flavorful. The other day we made pizza. The possibilities are endless.”
For more information on the Bronx Baking Co. check our their website: www.bronxbakingco.com