Home » Head Baker Francois Hiegel – NY Pretzels, EPI Bread – NYCE 2016

Head Baker Francois Hiegel – NY Pretzels, EPI Bread – NYCE 2016

by Edware F. Nesta
Chef Francois Hiegel and Edward F. Nesta - photo by Luxury Experience
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François Hiegel, Executive Head Baker of the prestigious Thomas Keller Restaurant Group shared the art of making Classic New York Pretzels during The International Culinary Center (The ICC) in New York City, during the New York Culinary Experience (NYCE) 2016 hosted by New York magazine and The International Culinary Center). Is there anything better than eating homemade pretzels hot from the oven?


Chef Fançois Hiegel and Edward F. Nesta

François Hiegel started his career at age 16 as an apprentice in Alsace, France, earned a diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts from the Centre of Apprenticeship Training (CCFA) of Eschau, France, and honed his skills working in Strasbourg, London, and New York City. As Executive Head Baker of Thomas Keller Restaurant Group fine dining restaurants, he oversees the art of making artisanal bread for The French Laundry and Per Se, and is also responsible for Bouchon Bakery.

Chef Hiegel is not only the consummate chef but is patient and thorough as an instructor, especially when explaining how to handle dough which requires you to be precise in your ingredients as well as precise with the steps in the process, so you can be proud of your finished product.

Chef Francois Hiegel - photo by Luxury Experience
Chef François Hiegel Instructing Class

When making the New York Pretzels, the most important ingredients are time and patience which translates into letting the dough "relax" and rise at its own pace, there is no need to overwork the dough. The other key is within the process as you need to take your time when rolling your dough and understand that with experience you will feel the dough roll smoothly under your fingers as you work to elongate the dough from a 7" (18cm) to a 25" (63.5cm) strand. With each strand I worked I could feel how to exert even pressure under my fingers and smoothly roll a 25" piece with an even width.

Chef Francois Hiegel - photo by Luxury Experience
Chef François Hiegel working pretzel dough

With regards to the tapered ends noted within the recipe, this is a signature finishing touch for all pretzels created from Chef Hieglel’s kitchens, and they provide a striking finished product. The next step is being able to pick up the two tapered ends and "flip" and "fold" to form the pretzel shape we all have come to know. Chef Hiegel showed how he has mastered this process and can pick up the tapered ends and quickly "flip" and "fold" and voilà you have your ready to bake pretzel.

Chef Francois Hiegel- photo by Luxury Experience
Chef François Hiegel formingNew York Pretzel

The "flip" and "fold" process will take time and can be fun as you try and perfect forming a pretzel. Do not worry about what comes out of your first set of tries, it will not affect the taste, but do not try more than a couple of times with a single piece of dough or you will overwork your dough and this will make the finished product tough.

Along with the New York Pretzel, we created Gruyere Epi breads. Epi bread is also known as Wheat Stalk Bread based on how the end product looks. Chef Hiegel emphasized that you could use any cheese you like or use a piece of ham with the cheese to make a miniature sandwich, the most important part is to use your imagination.

New York Culinary Experience - Edward F. Nesta - photo by Luxury Experience
Edward F. Nesta cutting Gruyere Epi Bread

You form the Epi (Wheat Stalk Bread) by taking rolled dough filled with you desired ingredients and then visualize the stand as multiple pieces (e.g. an 8" strand into 8 one-inch pieces). Next you will cut into the strand at the visualized section ½ to ¾ of the way, but not all the way through, and then flip the cut piece to the right and repeat the process and flip to the cut piece to the left;. You will continue the process all the way down the dough. Once baked the epi bread is a stunning visual finished product with which you can then "break bread together" allowing each person to pull off their own tasty delight.

Epi Gruyere - Chef Francois Hiegel - photo by Luxury Experience
Gruyere Epi Bread ready to be baked

Chef Fran̤ois Hiegel РNYCE 2016 Menu

Gruyère Épi
Classic New York Pretzel

Suggested wine pairing: Excelsior San Angelo Pinot Grigio

Chef François Hiegel graciously shares his recipe for Classic New York Pretzels from the 2016 New York Culinary Experience.

Classic New York Pretzel
Yield: 12 pretzels

Equipment Needed: Stand Mixer with a dough hook, plastic wrap, sheet tray, scale, bench knife, bowl scraper, parchment paper, vegetable oil spray, lye solution

Caution: Handle lye with care! Wear gloves and protective eye wear, avoid contact with skin and eyes.

Lye Solution Ingredients

Grams (1.6 Ounces)
Lye Beads
Liter (34 Ounces)
Cold Water

Method: Whisk lye beads into 1 liter cold water.

Classic New York Pretzel Ingredients

Grams (1.3 Pounds)
Sir Galahad Bread Flour
Grams (11 Ounces)
Grams (2 Ounces)
Grams (0.2 Ounce)
Malt Powder
Grams (0.4 Ounce)
Grams (0.18 Ounce)
Instant Yeast
Fleur de Sel, sprinkle on before baking

Method: Straight mix all ingredients together in a stand mixer with a hook for 5 minutes on 1st speed and 8 minutes on 2nd speed.

Divide into 100 gram (3.5 ounce) pieces.

Chef Francois Hiegel - photo by Luxury Experience
ChefFrançois Hiegelshaping dough

Pre-shape round.

Place on a board and cover with plastic to rest.

Fold the dough down over itself, and elongate each piece to roughly 7 inches (18 cm). Allow to relax.

Go back and start with the first piece, roll each piece to 25 inches (64 cm), tapering the tips.

Twist into a pretzel shape, pressing slightly to adhere the ends to the base.

Chef Sarah Cooper and Edward F. Nesta - photo by Luxury Experience
Chef Sarah Cooper and Edward F. Nesta
Salting Pretzel Dough

Place on a parchment lined sheet tray sprayed with oil. Cover with plastic and chill until firm.

Dip each pretzel into lye solution for 10 seconds.

Place on a fresh, parchment-lined sheet tray sprayed with oil, allowing space for expansion.

Sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Proof for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.

Edward F. Nesta - photo by Luxury Experience
Edward F. Nesta with baked New York Pretzel

Bake pretzels in a 470° F (243° C) oven for approximately 10 minutes.

New York magazineWant more information on the next NYCE? For more information about the New York Culinary Experience, contact Stephanie Fray at nyce@nymag.com or +1-646-314-4413.

Location and Information

The International Culinary Center

The International Culinary Center
462 Broadway
New York, New York 10013
United States
Toll-Free Telephone: +1-888-324-2433
Email: Info@internationalculinarycenter.com
Website: www.internationalculinarycenter.com

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© September 2016. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com. All rights reserved.

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