Saturday, June 7, 2008

Zwieback (double buns)


I baked some Zwieback this morning. I don't often do this since these soft delectable little buns
aren't exactly high in fiber or low in fat. However, every now and then I bake them for my beloved who adores them nearly as much as he does me.

This recipe was his grandma's. She, of course, baked a larger batch and then served them for Faspa on Sunday afternoons with fresh butter, cheese, and preserves. He claimed her buns were the best. They were and now the task is mine since she has long since passed away.


 To make buns it is best to assemble all your ingredients first.
Read through the recipe at the bottom of the page to understand the steps.

You will use a slightly different method for Zwieback. You will cut the softened butter into part of the flour rather than melting it in the milk. If you have a bench scraper, it is great for scraping off the bits of dough while kneading.


If you have a kitchen machine with a dough hook it will make the job quite quick but with patience, you can easily make beautifully soft buns by hand.


Total kneading time by hand will be about 10 minutes.
This small recipe should be easier to handle than a large one.
If you want lots of buns, just double it.

Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover.


Let it sit in a warm place until it has doubled, about 1 hour.

Put parchment paper on 3 cookie sheets. Have a little soft butter handy to keep your hands from becoming sticky. Take a handful of dough and pinch off small buns, about the size of a walnut.
This takes practice and if they don't look great,  it won't affect the taste.

Now, pinch off a slighter smaller bun and put it on top of the first bun.



With your fingers, push down through both buns all the way to the pan.



Cover them with a light tea towel.
Let them rise until doubled.


Preheat your oven to 400 Fahrenheit.
If you have convection preheat to 375.

Bake the buns until they are golden brown.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 cups warm milk
  • 1/4 cup instant potato flakes
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup soft butter (no substitutes)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 7 cups flour plus a little more for dusting your counter
  1. Add the yeast and sugar to the warm water in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your dough mixer.  Allow to rest for ten minutes.
  2. Heat the milk until it is also just warm,  room temperature is perfect.
  3. Add the instant potato flakes and stir.
  4. Add the milk mixture, the oil, and the salt to the yeast in the large bowl.
  5. Cut the butter into  3 cups of the flour with a pastry blender.
  6. Add the butter and flour mixture to the yeast and milk mixture.
  7. Add the remainder of the flour and allow the machine to knead until smooth.
  8. If you are mixing by hand, turn the dough onto a floured counter once stirring becomes too difficult.
  9. Knead to a smooth dough.
  10. Put the dough into a large mixing bowl and cover. 
  11. Let the dough double in bulk, about an hour.
  12. You will need 3 large cookie sheets.  Line them with parchment paper or grease.
  13. Take a piece of dough the size of a orange,  hold it in your left hand.  With your right hand, squeeze a bit of dough between your thumb and forefinger about the size of a walnut, pinch your thumb and forefinger together to squeeze it off.  With your right hand take the dough and place it on the pan.  Again, squeeze the dough between your thumb and forefinger, this time a smaller piece to make the top bun.  Squeeze it off and place it on top of your first bun.  With both your index fingers, press down through the top and bottom  buns to seal them together.  Repeat with all the dough.
  14. Cover the buns with a clean tea towel and let rise about an hour or until they have doubled.
  15. Bake in a preheated 400 F oven for about 20 minutes.  If you have a convection oven, bake at 375 F for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

23 comments:

  1. oh my...well
    this might be my most difficult test yet...baking zwieback. But if I get this down I think I am back wholly into my german/russian/mennonite roots! Wish me luck on Chem Sunday and hey, thanks....

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  2. Yum yum...I love zweiback! I know I'll be trying your recipe Lovella and it's extra special with cheese and jam!!

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  3. Well now I'm really hungry for zwiebacks...don't see them too often anymore! My mom-in-law made the world's best melt-in-you-mouth zwiebacks...and mine never quite measured up. I'll have to compare recipes and try again one of these days. I know she said there was no substitute for real butter when baking zwiebacks!

    Yous look yummy...as does the header!

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  4. oh i can taste those mouth watering, melt in your mouth buns....it has been awhile since i made them and our recipes as very similar............cheese and jam are definately a must

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  5. Lately I have baked up afew recipes of these recipes using my friends recipe. My granddaughter calls them 'party buns'. Filling the little hole is just so much fun when you are little. I remember doing that at my Grandma's when i was little. Kathy

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  6. This is too funny! Yesterday we were sitting around the table having lunch after church with our kids when the topic of Mennonite food came up - we were eating roll kuchen and watermelon - and my adult daughters informed me that they did not know what zwieback were - so now I have the step by step instructions to make them! Thanks! Dot (the Poetker recipe for roll kuchen in the Mennonite Treasurey cookbook are excellent too-crispy and flakey)

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  7. I am new to this site and am thrilled to have found it. I was raised Mennonite and have been making zwieback for years. I use the same dough for pizza - and sometimes I shape it into a giant ring - size of a pizza pan. Bake it - slice it horizontally - then make a large sandwich ring. Lots of fresh cold cuts. Slice into wedges to serve. Great for church functions.
    Another invention of mine - after making pizza I had some dough left over - roled it flat - cut squares and lined a muffin tin with the squares. Points sticking out. Filled them with sliced apples coated with sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle some butterscotch sauce on top. Fold over points of dough and bake. When done - drizzle cream cheese frosting on top. They are a major hit at church.

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  8. Thank you so much for the photos and great explanations. I'd planned to bake tomorrow and will try zweiback.

    Martha

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  9. Yayyy.. thanks so much, found the recipe, they look SOOO beautiful and yummy :D Carm

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  10. This is the easiest recipe I've ever used for zweibacks. The dough was so easy to work with and the buns came out great! Thank you for sharing your recipe.
    Jackie

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  11. THANK YOU so much for this site! It will make oma proud:)

    could the Zweiback be made into loaves? maybe 2?

    thanks!

    RaeAnn Wiebe

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  12. Just found this site and already love it. My Mom used to make zwieback every Saturday morning. In the summer, she would save enough dough to cover the bottom of a 9X9 pan, cover it with fresh fruit (sweetened as needed), and then top with brown sugar/butter/flour crumbs and bake. This is best when fresh and it disappeared by dinner time.
    I make the zwieback dough and put three little balls of dough in each hole of a greased muffin tin.

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  13. I too love zwieback and your recipe looks yummy. I like the detail and photos. A friend of mine told me a trick to keep the top bun from toppling. Put a toothpick down the centre and take it out immediately when baked.
    Louise

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  14. THANK you!!! This was my first try at baking buns and they are perfet!!!!
    The recipe was so easy to follow, and I really appreciate you setting the "time" for everything. It made a huge difference for me.

    Can't wait to share these with my family!!!

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  15. This weekend my sister and I are going to attempt our family zwieback recipe. Our grandmother passed away in October, and she was always the one to make the zwieback. I am so worried that I wouldn't get it right, even though I have the written recipe my grandmother went by. Nobody else in our family has ever attempted the recipe, so I found your version which is almost identical to ours!

    My grandmother put this recipe on paper for the first time about 30 years ago by measuring everything that her mother would put into the mix. Her mother made the zwieback only from memory.

    My ancestors were also German Mennonites, living in Sagradovka, Ukraine

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  16. Thank you for posting this! I went to a Mennonite College, and made Zwieback from a boyfriend's Mother's recipe. My first attempt to make these were not successful as they were too hard...so my boyfriend teasingly called them Zwiepucks!! To keep the buns together, I took my thumb and punched down through the top bun down to the bottom. Worked everytime. I also make these with whole wheat flour. I'm gonna bake these for Sunday. Yay!!

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  17. My charming bride of 30 years decided to blow the socks off her mom and my mom by gifting them with fresh Zweiback. Your recipe fit the bill perfectly. The results rocketed me back to MY Oma's kitchen and I was suddenly 8 years old and the only thing missing was Oma's gooseberry jam. The results were out of this world. We just love your collection and can't get enough. You've taken the M Treasury and gave it a makeover in the nicest way. The Photos are very well done and help to explain great details. I have become a very large fan of your blog. : - )

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  18. Owlwoman
    I lost my great grandma's recipe in a flood about 10 years ago. I have been trying to put it together in my head and couldn't get it right.Thank you for the recipe and the heavenly smell and taste from my childhood.

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  19. I just found this site as I surfed the web while my zweiback are rising for the last time before going into the oven. I picked up baking in my 40's a couple of decades after moving away from the Kansas Mennonite community I grew up in. Anyway, it's nice to know traditions aren't dying. I've introduced zweiback to my children and they invite their friends over every time I back a batch.

    Jake Thiessen

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  20. I just made them today and I called my grandma while I was making them to find out what to do about getting the dough stuck to my hands... she said to rub some oil on them while forming the buns. It worked perfectly! They aren't quite my grandma's but I'm bringing them to the Christmas gathering tonight and we'll see what everyone says!

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  21. I am an anthropologist and teach a course titled Anthropology of Food so decided to get my Mennonite mother's zwieback recipe out and make them for my students at Lee University. The zwieback turned out great and will see how the students like them today. Most have never heard of Mennonites. "Mennonite boys can also bake zwieback"!

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  22. Thank you for this wonderful blog and recipe collection. Although I am not a Mennonite girl (c: my husband's family were originally "Russian" Mennonites. I love to hear the stories which go with food and really hope that you post more stories about the place of food in the Mennonite culture - whether old order or mainstream members.
    Recently, I read abouot the place of Zweiback and its meaning to a particular family. Sadly, I can't now find it. Does anyone remember this?
    Many thanks to you all.

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  23. This must be a very soft dough! With four cups liquid and only 7 cups flour.... I'm NOT a baking expert like you gals, but I get a little nervous with the soft doughs. So then, after rising they get less sticky? Someday, Lovella, I'm coming to your house to WATCH! I'm a visual learner! Wink wink!

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