Saturday, December 22, 2012

Zwieback (double buns)

These little buns have been a tradition in my family for several generations. It just wouldn't be Christmas without them. I remember my mom, all hot and bothered, fussing with these and making Schoenekuchen (nice cookies - a very soft cut-out sugar type cookie) as they rose. Mine are never as pretty and even as hers were - she is a perfectionist - but they still bring up those Christmas memories!

Beware: these make a lot of buns, so be prepared to use a large cookie sheet and small 24-cup muffin tin like I did, with enough left over for the next recipe - apple buns or a fruit square (platz).

The farm method:
  • Prepare 1 pkg fast-rising yeast or 1 tbsp dry yeast as directed on package.
  • Stir risen yeast and pour into a large bowl. Add 3 c warm water and enough flour for a sponge (puffy soft starter dough) - about 3-4 c flour for this amount of liquid - and beat well. Let stand, covered in warm spot.
  • Place in medium saucepan: 2 c warm milk, 3 sticks (1 1/2c) butter or margarine (or half and half shortening and butter), 1/2 c white sugar, 1/4 c salt. Warm on medium heat just until the margarine starts to melt and the sugar is dissolved. Let cool slightly.
  • Stir together in bowl containing the 'sponge,' mixing well and adding 4-6 more cups of flour to make a medium-soft smooth elastic dough. Knead flour in on floured surface once you can no longer mix it in with a wooden spoon.
  • Grease the bowl and top of dough and let rise til doubled, about 2 hours or so, covered with a tea towel.
  • When dough is ready, turn out on to floured surface and let rest, covered with a tea towel for about 10 minutes. Then pinch off (or cut with serrated knife) pieces of dough that you can roll into balls which are about the size of a small egg (equal to the size of 2 walnuts). Use a cupped hand to roll the dough against the palm of your other hand or a floured surface to make smooth balls. When you make enough base pieces, make balls about half that size for the top buns. Press gently together (don't worry if they fall to the side when rising - mine always do).
You can  use a greased cookie sheet:
Little buns - not perfect but sweet all the same
Or greased miniature muffin tins (or both):
A bevy of finished zwieback baked in mini muffin tins

  • Let rise for approximately an hour and bake in 350-375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until a light golden brown.
  • Cool on a covered surface (I usually reuse the tea towels) and then pull apart the top from the bottom and enjoy with a bit of butter and/or jam.

Next recipe: apple buns.

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