ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JANET HAMOUS
Marie Schultz’s neighbors at Park Village in Hillsboro tell her to keep her door open on the days she bakes, so the smell of zwiebach will waft through the building.
But if she did that, she said, people would stop by and she’d never get her work done.
Fridays are zwiebach-making days for Schultz, and her apartment becomes a virtual baking assembly line.
“I make 13 dozen a morning usually,” she said. “I have people that come and get them every week.”
Schultz said she didn’t plan to go into the zwiebach-making business, and just how it happened is something of a mystery to her.
“I did a lot of baking when my children were growing up,” she said.
She and husband Orlando, now deceased, had seven children-three boys and four girls.
“But I never thought of anything like this,” she said. “It just fell in my lap and I started doing it.”
As Schultz recalls, it was at least 10 years ago when her pastor’s daughter asker her to make zwiebach for her wedding.
“That’s where it started,” she said. “At first it was just for friends.”
Then she started getting calls from people she didn’t even know.
“I have someone I’ve never met coming today,” she said. “I don’t know how she got my name. It’s all by word of mouth.”
On days when she bakes, Schultz gets up at 6:30 a.m. and begins mixing her first batch of dough.
Her heavy-duty mixer sits on a rolling cart in her kitchen and is just the right height so she doesn’t have to bend over or reach.
“I didn’t want to lift my mixer each time, so I asked my boys if they could make me a cart,” she said.
She kneads the bread in a large plastic container on a stool that sits beside the cart.
“I do very little kneading,” she said.
She lets the dough rise for a half hour, then shapes the rolls.
“You have to have the dough at the right temperature and the right consistency,” Schultz said.
She holds a handful of dough in her fist and uses her thumb and index finger to pinch off just the right size piece. She then taps it to eliminate air pockets and places it on the pan.
“My aim is to not have any of them touch,” she said.
She fashions a smaller ball of dough and sets it atop the first piece, then carefully punches it down to ensure it will stay as it bakes.
“Some people think you can just set it on top, but I punch it down,” Schultz said.
“I have to think of my mother when I bake because she was always telling me that the zwiebach should be ‘standing up straight and looking proud of themselves.'”
Each pan holds 20 rolls, and when the pan is full, Schultz covers it with a tea towel and puts aside to rise another half hour.
While the rolls are rising the second time, she mixes her second batch of dough. Two batches give her the 13 dozen rolls she regularly bakes.
By the time the dough is mixed, the first tray of rolls is ready for the oven.
The rolls bake for 20 minutes and are then removed onto a rack to cool.
Schultz bakes the rolls to a perfect golden brown.
“When I started doing so much baking, I went and bought some new pans, and they really work great,” she said. “They bake a nice brown zwiebach. They have a better flavor.
“Some like them so that they’re barely colored, but they are not very good,” she added with a laugh.
While the last rolls are rising, she prepares for her next day of baking.
“I measure all my dry ingredients beforehand,” she said. “I do my measuring in the morning when I have them all in the pans.”
Zwiebach in different stages of completion are scattered throughout her apartment.
“I wondered how I would have room,” Schultz said about moving to her apartment. “But I have it organized and I can handle it.”
By mid-morning, all 13 dozen rolls are completed.
After they cool, she packages them in plastic bags.
“I make sure they are cool before I close them up,” she said.
The zwiebach freeze well, Schultz said.
“I usually freeze them in two gallon bags,” she said. “You can keep them in the deep freeze for quite a few weeks.”
Schultz attributes the popularity of her rolls to the recipe, which is one she developed and perfected.
Zwiebach recipes often call for oil, she said, but she also uses oleo.
“I put in a stick of the oleo and then the oil,” she said. “Then I use a cup of half-and-half.”
She uses bread flour for her rolls, which she buys in large sacks.
“I also put something in that most people don’t put in-oat flour,” she said.
Schultz says the oat flour gives the rolls “a different consistency and a little bit different taste.
“I use that in all my baking,” she added.
In addition to the 13 dozen zwiebach she makes weekly, Schultz occasionally bakes for special events.
“In June, I did 38 dozen for a wedding,” she said. “Those zwiebach went to Arkansas.”
This week, she is baking 34 dozen rolls for the Hillsboro Museums to sell at the Hillsboro Arts and Crafts Fair.
“They’re serving them with the sausage-on-a-stick,” she said.
As much as she loves baking, Schultz says she really has all the business she can handle.
“I don’t want to advertise,” she said. “It is my hobby, and what I am doing is what I like to do.
“I don’t want that much more. I am no spring chicken any more.”