De Omni Scribili

Scribblings Of Ed Wiebe

Nanny's Zwieback (as made by Ed).

2    cups    milk
1    cup     water
1    cup     butter/margerine/oil (I use less -- about 1/2)
2    tblsp   yeast (I think this is two pouches of Fleischmans)
6-7  cups    flour (approximate)
1    pinch   salt
1    tsp     sugar (approximate)

 1)  Prepare two tablespoons of yeast in one cup of water with a bit of sugar.

 2)  Scald two cups of milk.

 3)  Combine the milk and "fats" with 1 cup flour.

 4)  (When this has cooled enough) add the yeast mixture.

 5)  Mix in some flour until the dough is to stiff too stir with a spoon

 6)  Using your hands to mix now, add the rest of the flour.
     -- NOTE: I don't really keep track of the total.  If you add too 
              much the dough is stiff and the buns are heavy and tough.
              Practice makes perfect.  It does also seem to be a bit dependent
              on the humidity (as Mom always claimed) I think that the moisture
              content of the flour is variable.

 7)  Knead the dough for a while (10 minutes).  Mine is almost always sticky.
     I have learned to add the last flour in a trickle over the kneading time 
     to control this.  I think that maybe adding more fat will make the dough
     glossier, smoother and less sticky.  I just don't want that much fat in
     it.

 8)  Let the dough rise in warm quiet place (I use the inside of the 
     oven with only the light on -- at least half an hour.  I grease the dough
     and a sheet of wax paper with some shortening (more fat) and use the wax
     paper as a lid to prevent the dough from drying out.  Then I cover the
     whole thing with a towel.

 9)  Form the dough into buns on baking sheets by pinching the the dough.
     This would be a great thing to watch Amelia Bedelia doing! 
     You can roll the buns between your hands too but the texture of the 
     crust is slightly different.  I describe pinching the dough below.

 10) Let the dough rise again.

 11) Bake the suckers.  You can achieve quite a range of acceptable bun types
     by varying the baking time and temperature.  I prefer hot and fast. 
     200 C for about 10 minutes.  Mom used to do them longer.  They get a 
     tougher crust if they are baked longer.  The secret to a crispy crust 
     like french bread is to periodically cool and humidify the surface of 
     the baking bread with spray of water.  I don't think that this works well
     with buns.  But it may.

How to eat zwieback.
  The obvious methods are: 
   - hold it in your hand and bite it -- plain and simple
   - cut the bun in half and using a layer technique pile on the goodies 
     finishing with the bun top -- traditional
   - cut the bun in half and spread each half with peanut butter and honey 
     or jam -- heavenly
   - cut the bun in half and lay it face down in a warm frying pan, don't 
     add any more fat, just let it fry very slowly until the cut face gets 
     golden and crispy.  Then dip it in soup.  -- This is wonderful
     and is twice baked (zwie back).
   - Any way you can!

An alternate method of forming the buns.  
  Instead of making single buns, form each bun out of two or three smaller 
  pieces pressed side by side, especially in a muffin pan.  The resulting 
  buns will be more like dinner rolls and will tear easily along the seams 
  between the component pieces.

Pinching the dough.
  Seize a blob of dough big enough for several buns and hold it in your hand. 
  Make and "O" with your index finger and thumb and use your other fingers to
  squeeze the dough through this opening.  You can use your other hand to 
  push the doough as well.  As the dough squeezes through, close off the 
  opening by dragging your index finger along your thumb to the base. This 
  looks like an iris diaphragm closing (think of the iris in a camera lens 
  or in your eye).  With a bit of practice you get beautiful smooth skinned 
  buns.  My mom called this pinching or pinching off the buns.
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