De Omni Scribili

Scribblings Of Ed Wiebe

Nanny's Zwieback (as made by Ed).

I was once famous for my beautiful, golden, round buns but I no longer bake these. I have celiac disease and cannot go anywhere near gluten.

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)
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.

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 an "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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