Friday, April 25, 2014

Foodie Friday: Zweiback

 My mom is from German/Mennonite roots, and when we were children she would make us some of the heritage recipes her mother made for her and her 9 other siblings. Grandma could make something out of nothing, whether it was a dress out of hand-me-downs or a birthday card using Elmer's glue, glitter and a kleenex. She even made her own cottage cheese in a sunny window. Don't worry, all you with the cringing immune systems! She never killed anyone in over 90 years.

This recipe comes from the church cookbook all the way up in Warroad, Minnesota, where we might be related to half the town. At least that's how it felt when I was a kid. I think it took us an hour to get out of church after going through a gauntlet of hugs from second cousins twice removed and long lost aunties. Now, on to the Zweiback. I have heard it means 'piggy back buns'. I will tell you, it makes for a delicious little roll with a convenient pop-off top to fill with butter and jam. My kids absolutely love these, and when I make them they usually go fast despite making a large batch.


2 pkg. dry yeast (I use bulk yeast, 4 1/2 tsp roughly)
2 C. warm water
2 C. warm milk
1 C. lard (shortening is best, butter works)
2 TBS. sugar (you can use honey if preferred)
1 scant TBS. salt (you can see the original recipe calls for 2 1/2 TBS. which I think is a typo)
about 9 C. flour

Heat milk and water together til hot but not simmering. Pour into large bowl with lard/shortening. Let sit a few minutes to start melting the shortening and cool a bit. The milk mixture should be about 110 degrees before you add the yeast. My professional method of checking is to stick my finger in: if it is still so hot you pull your finger right out, then it is too hot for the yeast. Scientific! When it is sufficiently cooled, add yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes to proof. This isn't absolutely necessary but I find it is a helpful step especially if you are afraid your yeast is past its prime. It should get nice and foamy. Next, add salt and about 6 cups of flour. Grab yourself a big wooden spoon and stir til smooth. Begin adding flour til it becomes hard to stir. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour as necessary. The secret to nice, tender bread is to add just enough flour to make it easy to knead easily. Knead dough for about 10 minutes, til smooth and elastic. Put into a greased bread bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Let rise til doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Punch down dough and rip off walnut-sized pieces. Roll them slightly to smooth them out and put on a baking sheet.  After you have a sheet full, tear off slightly smaller pieces and roll, placing them on top of the walnut-sized pieces and poke your finger down through both pieces. It should look like a belly button! This keeps the two parts together. Cover and let rise for 30-40 minutes. Bake @ 350 degrees for 20 minutes, til lightly golden. This recipe makes a lot, so it will take about 3 rounds in the oven to bake them all. To eat, pop the top off and fill with butter and jam. Enjoy!

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