I still make them the way they were made in the Ukraine by the Mennonites – the recipe passed on to me by my Mother in law.
They have always held a place of honor in my kitchen – maybe more so than any other food - because of what Schnetki mean to my husband.
Let me give you the background story.
In the month of September of 1941 my husband’s life was forever altered.
He was a 4 year old boy living with his parents and younger brother in a Mennonite village in the Ukraine.
It was WWII, and the order had come down from the Ukrainian officials -- all men 16 and over were to be gathered out of the Mennonite villages and marched to Siberia. Because they were of German descent, they were now enemies of the state.
My husband’s father was one of those men who were marched away under guard that September morning – many never to see their families again.
The tearful wives and mothers tried to do what they could to send some items of comfort with their men, knowing that they would be encountering harsh treatment and impossible living conditions.
My husband very clearly remembers watching his mother bake Schnetki on the outside hearth and pack them up for her husband. That was the last time he saw his father . The image of his father walking out of his life, carrying the Schnetki is forever imprinted on his mind!
And for the 68 years since that day, Schnetki have been his ‘comfort’ food… perhaps subconsciously connecting them with the father he was robbed of.
I could not count how many Schnetki I have made for him ….. and still do. When I ask him what he is hungry for I know the answer before I ask.
Unless you are like my husband, with no need to watch cholesterol or high blood pressure or weight… you will not be rushing into your kitchen to make these Schnetki. I am posting the recipe to preserve the original recipes of our Mennonites in the Ukraine.
Mennonites, historically being a hard-working people on the land , did not worry about calories or fat-content in food ! Even so – they have for the most part been a hardy, healthy people , enjoying longevity.
There is a reason this ‘biscuit’ was named Schnetki . Schnetki is not a German word - it has obviously 'phonetically evolved' over the years from the word Schnecke meaning 'snail' and that will become self-explanatory as you see that the pastry is rolled up like a 'snail'.
3 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 egg + enough milk to make one cup
Mix flour and salt together , then cut in the shortening and butter
Put egg into a measuring cut and fill to make 1 cup
Mix and turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth, form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap
chill in fridge overnight! VERY IMPORTANT!
Roll out thin and spread with butter
Starting at one edge roll dough to about the size of your middle finger , then cut along edge of roll
Bake in very hot oven 425' until browned ... about 15-20 minutes.
I also use the same dough to make perschki .... (fruit pockets)