Frank and I consider ourselves lovers of the German language. Since before I can remember we’ve been saying ‘no’ in German instead of English (causing my niece to ask Frank: “what does nein mean?” quite frequently) and often call each other schweinehund. (Pig-dog. Apparently this is incredibly insulting when said to a German person, but we mean it in an affectionate way. The same way my old boss calls me Numbnuts) I can understand a small amount of written German, Frank loves German beer, and I work for a German company. Germany is also one of those beautiful European countries that most of the UK hasn’t considered visiting yet, but that I have visited more than any other country. So I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I found a recipe for German pastries!
Until I went back and looked at the recipe this morning, I thought that these amazing little pastries were called schenken. And despite knowing that a pig in German is a schwein, I was convinced that a boar in German is a schenken. So I sat for ages wondering why these scrolls would be called boars even though Nigella said they were called snails. Turns out my German isn’t as good as I thought, and there is no such thing as schenken! But it certainly makes sense why these pastries are called snails…
Frank was out on Saturday, so I spent the day in the kitchen. When he got home the schnecken were bubbling away in the oven. Having smelled cinnamony goodness and looked at me with a query I told him I was baking schnecken. To which he responded: “ah, delicious” without even seeing what was in there. I had to ask, “do you know what schnecken are?”, and true to form Frank answered “no, but it sounds delicious!”. (When he was told they are snails he looked less than pleased, but loved them when they came out and landed in his belly!)
This recipe was fantastically simple and straight-forward. The dough takes awhile to rise, but other than that the recipe was quick and rather delicious! I used pistachios and raisins as I didn’t have walnuts, so I think you can substitute until your heart’s content!
Schnecken recipe – from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’
3 1/3 cups bread flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 packet dry yeast (7g)
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs
½ cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons demerrera sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons golden syrup
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup castor sugar
¼ cup demerrera sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Melt the butter in the milk; use a microwave and measuring cup for ease. Beat in the eggs and stir into the dry ingredients to make dough. Knead for 10 minutes, or 5 minutes with a dough hook. When it’s springy and satiny, form it into a ball, put into an oiled bowl, turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Using an electric mixer, start on the syrup: beat the butter until soft and smooth, and add the sugar, still beating. Beat in the maple syrup and golden syrup. Divide the mixture among a 12-cup muffin pan. Top with walnuts or pecans, about a tablespoon for each cup.
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. When the dough is ready, knock it back, knead once or twice and then roll out to a large rectangle, approximately 30 by 60 cms, with the long side nearest you.
Beat the egg and the milk in a small bowl; glaze the dough, using a pastry brush to paint, or just your fingers.
Mix the filling ingredients in a little bowl and sprinkle onto the dough. Now, roll up the long side and away from you, carefully but firmly, keeping a firm sausage shape. Cut into 12 even slices, and lie each slice spiral-swirly cut side up, on top of the nuts and syrup in the muffin pan.
Leave to rise for 20 minutes. When they’re risen and puffy, put into the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, by which time they should be golden and cooked: crisp in parts, voluptuously gooey in others. Place a parchment-paper-lined roasting pan or baking sheet on top and turn the whole thing the other way up. You will need oven mitts and a degree of caution to do this. Remove the muffin tray and dislodge any nuts that are still stuck in it, adding them, along with any residual syrup, to the upturned buns.