Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bet you don't know what Schnecken is?

I probably wouldn't ever have known about Schnecken had I not lived next door to a woman who was German by heritage, and she made these rolls often. Very often. The couple invited us for dinner one night and these were served with dinner.

Now anybody reading this who has a German-Jewish heritage, you may leap all over me to tell me that Schnecken are NOT dinner rolls. They're sweet rolls that are a standard, but special occasion, sweet roll, usually filled with nuts or a caramel nut mixture. And generally they're eaten in the morning, at breakfast, like biscuits, a doughnut, or a bear claw. And actually, I found out that Schnecken is a Yiddish word. And here in the U.S. there seem to be lots of bakeries in the Cincinnati area that offer them. Must be a big German/Jewish population there who know about a good thing when they find it.

I did a google search for these guys, hoping that now that the internet has "everything" I'd find something about Schnecken ROLLS. Nay. Nada. Just a bunch of recipes for sweet dough with a sweet, nut filling. And believe it or not there's even a blog out there dedicated to Schnecken memories. No recipes, just reminiscences. Really. That's where I learned about Cincinnati's love affair with Schnecken. But, I truly don't know whether these are authentic, other than my neighbor was German, and she served these with dinner. They need no added butter as they're layered with some before the second rise.

What these are, are sweet. Certainly sweeter than regular dinner rolls. They're kind of like King's Hawaiian Bread, if you have that where you live. Also kind of like Hot Cross Buns, but without the frosting/glaze on top. But the dough is very tender. Once I got the technique down, and did some research about them, I discovered that they're akin to the Refrigerator Yeast Rolls of old. For those of you young'uns, Refrigerator Yeast Bread came into high esteem after the advent of . . . well, refrigerators. Duh. But no, really, you need to understand a bit more yeast fact and lore. Yeast dough likes a warm rising environment. It needs the time to rise too - that's what we like about raised bread, it has all those tiny little holes in it filled with air. But, homemakers couldn't always stay home all day waiting to work on the dough just when the dough said so. Probably some housewife had to take her children to the lake to swim, or she needed to help weed the south 40, so in desperation, she stuck the dough in the refrigerator. When she returned hours later and removed the dough, and let it come to room temperature she discovered the dough had risen anyway, even being chilled. But it was delayed. Perfect. Hence, Refrigerator Rolls were born. That's my explanation and I'm sticking to it!

The refrigerator thing is what makes these so fun and easy to do. You mix up the dough and let it do its thing in the frig. A couple of hours before you need them, remove from the refrigerator, roll out and cut with a biscuit cutter, set aside, lightly covered in a semi-warm place, and give them 1 - 1 1/2 hours to rise and pop them in the oven. The most heavenly fragrance will perfume the air. Betcha you can't not eat one right away!

Schnecken Rolls
Recipe By : from a neighbor I knew in Washington, D.C. (1963)
Servings : 24
2 packages dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup warm water
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter -- room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
2 whole egg -- slightly beaten
6 1/2 cups bread flour -- approximately
1. In a glass measuring cup combine the 1/4 cup water, sugar and ground ginger; then add the yeast packages, stir and set aside until bubbly.
2. In a large bowl combine the water, sugar, butter and salt. Add the boiling water and stir until the butter melts. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat well.
3. Add the eggs and yeast mixture, stir well, then add all the remaining flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. Chill for 4 hours.
4. Roll the dough out onto a floured board and use a rolling pin to roll it into a 10" by 18" rectangle. Spread the dough with a little bit of butter all over. Fold the dough in half.
5. Cut the folded dough with a biscuit cutter and place in metal pans with the rolls almost touching. Allow to rise for about 1-1 1/4 hours.
6. Preheat oven to 375° and bake rolls for 20-25 minutes.
NOTES : I actually used to make these a lot because they could be made in the morning, put into the refrigerator to chill the dough, then about 2 hours before guests arrived I'd roll it out, cut them, allow them to rise, and bake them just as guests arrived. It made the house smell wonderful! And they're absolutely delicious.
Per Serving: 243 Calories; 9g Fat (32.4% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 36g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 38mg Cholesterol; 174mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
To view a printable recipe, click on title at top.

No comments: