photography by Sarah Parisi Dowlin
A new one-man bakery has Cincinnati’s collective lederhosen in a bit of a twist. Like so many Ohio Valley natives, Drew Rath comes from heavily German stock. But rather than the Bavarian tradition the region has come to love—to an obsessive degree, some might say—Rath’s forebears hail from the southwestern region of Swabia (pronounced schway-bee-ah), a place where pretzels are served thick, chewy, and accompanied by a flight of dips.
“Bavarian pretzels are delicious, but that’s just one of so many styles from places in Germany, Ukraine, and all over Eastern Europe,” Rath says. “My dream is to open a pretzel bar, where people can try different styles paired with mustards and cheeses.”
Swabian pretzels are soft like their Bavarian counterparts, but their distinctive shape and higher fat content makes for a denser, chewier end result. Flash freezing the dough before dipping it in lye helps the pretzels keep their shape, Rath says. His sourdough pretzels involve a three-day process. He’s experimenting with other creations, including a blueberry yeast variety and Laugenbrötchen bowls for soups and dips.
Tuba is a local affair. Eight years ago, Rath sourced starter from Shadeau Bakery, which has since closed, but maintains a small presence thanks to partnerships with bakers like Rath. He gets grains from MadTree, cheese from Urban Stead, and spices from Colonel De’s Gourmet Herbs & Spices.
He uses the production space at Newport’s Incubator Kitchen Collective, a move from his home kitchen that increased his output and reach. A stay-at-home dad by day, Rath bakes at night in the shared commercial space.
“The whole thing started organically, just cooking for my friends,” Rath says. “It seems like everyone I meet inspires me to try new things and take this further.”
Hannah is a graduate of NKU's political science program and a freelance creative who writes extensively about development in Greater Cincinnati. She doesn't like to fly, but she loves to travel. Her favorite books are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Love in the Time of Cholera.