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Oct 22, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Pratzel’s Bakery’

One Helluva Challah

Friday, May 10th, 2013

The sudden closing of the venerable Pratzel’s Bakery last fall left many St. Louisans in disbelief. No more chocolate-covered upside-down cupcakes (aka “UFOs”), no more tzitzel rye bread and no more challah.

That last one is a real point of tsuris (pain) for area Jews, many of whom customarily slice into the braided loaves on Friday nights to welcome the Sabbath.

So we’re here to let you in on a little secret. We’ve found one of the best (non-kosher) challahs in town. And – surprise! – it’s at a bakery you’ve never heard of.

Every week, congregants of Central Reform Congregation reap the benefits of what appears to be a simple weekly challah sale in the synagogue’s front office. While it’s not out of the norm for a synagogue to bake its own challah, it is unusual for their ovens to turn out a loaf with such out-of-this-world flavor. The challah’s toasty brown, egg-brushed exterior yields to a yellow center that is simultaneously soft, dense, sweet and chewy. Each week, the four-dozen or so challahs get shaped into beautiful braided forms and either left plain or showered with poppy or sesame seeds.

These exemplary loaves are baked by a crew of volunteers that includes Michael DiPlacido, an amateur baker who really kicks it up a notch for holidays and special events. Want your challah in the shape of a dreidel for Hanukkah? No problem. Care to have a challah that looks like a honey pot filled with apples to toast to a “sweet new year” this Rosh Hashanah? Go for it. DiPlacido will even adorn your loaf with the Hebrew name of the young lads crossing over into adulthood (aka Bar/Bat Mitzvahs) that week. These are seriously elaborate works of art that would be the envy of any boutique bakery.

The great news is that you don’t have to be a member of CRC to taste this challah perfection; anyone can pick up the braided loaves. But because the volunteers’ baking schedule is erratic – they bake on Tuesdays, Thursdays and sometimes Sundays – it’s best to call ahead to make sure the challahs are available.

Central Reform Congregation, 5020 Waterman Blvd., St. Louis, 314.361.3919, centralreform.org

The Scoop: Dough no longer rising at Pratzel’s

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

In early 2011, many St. Louisans mourned news that the kosher bakery Pratzel’s was closing after 98 years in business. A few months later, bagel-lovers rejoiced when Jon Mills (pictured, right) stepped forward to purchase the wholesale baking facility located at 9265 Dielman Industrial Court in Olivette. Unfortunately, Mills’ baking days look to be short-lived. As reported by Byron Kerman for St. Louis Magazine, Pratzel’s appears to have shuttered. Kerman notes that paper now covers the bakery’s front door and that he has been unsuccessful in reaching Mills or other Pratzel’s personnel. Over the past week, The Scoop has also made numerous attempts to contact Mills. Phone messages and e-mails have gone unanswered.

The Scoop: Pratzel’s Bakery rises again under new ownership

Monday, March 21st, 2011

031811_pratzelsWhen Ronnie and Elaine Pratzel announced in late January that they were closing the area’s only independently owned kosher bakery after 98 years in business, there was an outcry of support from local businesses to keep the St. Louis institution alive.

But rye bread and chocolate-covered cupcake lovers, fear not! Pratzel’s Bakery will rise again, this time under the ownership of Jon Mills (pictured, right).

Mills, a documentary producer and self-professed foodie, will operate Pratzel’s out of the company’s wholesale baking facility at 9265 Dielman Industrial Court in Olivette. He also plans to convert part of the bakery into a storefront, similar to the way Pratzel’s operated when it was located on Eastgate Avenue in The Loop. In fact, Mills has renamed the company Eastgate Bakers as a nod to this period in the bakery’s history, though the working name of the store will remain Pratzel’s Bakery.

Contrary to suggestions that Pratzel’s closed for financial reasons, Mills said that the Pratzels were actually facing health issues and were ready to retire. With no family members willing to take over, they searched for an outside buyer. Ronnie Pratzel (pictured, left), who ran the bakery for 40 years, expressed his pleasure with this most recent advancement in his family’s history. “Although he is not a relative, Jon is the perfect person to continue my family’s legacy. He’s bright, capable and young enough to have the energy to run this operation. … [Mills] “has a deep appreciation for the history and tradition of Pratzel’s in our community.”

Ronnie Pratzel will remain involved as a consultant and salesperson for the bakery, and many of Pratzel’s former employees have expressed interest in returning to the bakery as well. As for Mills, he referred to the opportunity as beshert – a Yiddish term for “meant to be.”

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