Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Ok, so the zwieback is now finished and we're on to the banana tea bread. Zwieback takes a good long while to make since it requires two separate rising times, so plan ahead. Most of the time is in the rising, so it's hand-off, but it will take the better part of a day to do. This recipe, as well as the Banana Tea Bread that I'll post shortly, are both from the book Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking: A Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter. Here's a link to the book on Amazon if you're interested:

The Recipe:


  • 2 cups scalded milk

  • 1 cup shortening

  • 1 cup warm water

  • 2 eggs (optional)

  • 2 tsp sugar

  • 1 yeast cake

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 8-10 cups sifted flour

  • 4 tbsp sugar

  • Scald milk, add shortening, salt and 4 tbsp sugar.

    Crumble yeast in a small bowl, add 2 tsp sugar and 1 cup lukewarm water. Set in a warm place until spongy.

    Add yeast mixture and beaten eggs to lukewarm milk.

    Mix well and stir in flour gradually.

    Knead dough until very soft and smooth.

    Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.

    Pinch off small balls of dough the size of a small egg.

    Place these 1 inch apart on a greased pan.

    Put a similar ball, but slightly smaller, on top of bottom ball.

    Press down with thumb.

    Let rise until double in bulk (about 1 hour).

    Bake at 400-425F for 15-20 minutes.

    Yields approximately 4 dozen.

    Mrs. J. J. Voth, North Newton, Kan.
    Mrs. Dietrich Warkentin, Mountain Lake, Minn.

    My Results:

    First off, let me say that I've never made Zwieback before, but I have purchased it in the store and this didn't come out anything like that...I think because it did not have the final "toasting" directions in the recipe. I will be slicing and slowly drying these "rolls" to make them into zwieback toasts. Recipes elsewhere direct you to slice them and then bake them in a low oven (200F) for 15 minutes or until dried out and crisp, so that is what I will do.

    I did make a couple of substitutions in ingredients. I don't use cake yeast so I substituted instant yeast instead using 2 tsp of instant yeast for the cake called for. I also used a combination of white and wheat flours since I am trying to include more whole grains in our family diet so instead of the 8-10 cups of flour called for, I ended up using 3 cups whole wheat flour and about 5 2/3 cups white flour. I say "about" because your results may vary depending on the humidity in your home, time of year, phase of the moon, what-have-you so this is an approximation.

    Here is a picture of the gathered ingredients (minus the eggs which I did decide to use at the last minute):

    And for anyone wondering what the "sponge" stage of the yeast looks like:

    Now, I scalded the milk on the stovetop and then mixed it with the shortening, sugar and salt in my handy dandy KitchenAid mixer, which I absolutely love...

    My mixer is a 5 quart capacity Artisan and it could NOT handle this amount of dough, although it did well with the dough hook until the last cup and a half of flour or so was added and it started to climb the hook. At that point I removed it from the mixer and kneaded in the remaining flour by hand. Here is a picture of the dough after it has been kneaded and is ready for it's first rest:

    And here it is at the end of that first rest period, before dividing into the individual rolls:

    Now, because it said that it makes about 4 dozen, I decided to divide the monster dough ball into quarters and bake 1 dozen on each cookie sheet instead of guessing on sizes. I also did not do the one ball on top of another as instructed because I am a bad guesser on egg size :) So I just went with 1/12 of each dough quarter and baked as is, pressing down the dough with my thumb after placing on the cookie sheet. Here they are just before going into the oven:

    And here is a photo of the final result, fresh from the oven:

    As I mentioned, I will be slicing these "rolls" and drying them in the oven for my little E to munch on. I did eat one of the rolls and they are pretty good. Taste like a light wheat bread roll with just a hint of sweetness. I think E will probably enjoy munching on them and I will enjoy the fact that they aren't full of hard to pronounce ingredients or lots of salt and sugar!

    If you decide to give this one a go, please let me know how it turns out for you! Now on to the banana bread!

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