Without fail, one of my family’s time-honored traditions for the holidays is to have some sort of bun or bread with our meal (and for the bread to come out of the oven burnt black on the bottom–sorry Mom!) When we do manage to salvage the bread from burning, though, the family usually passes it around the table in a woven basket covered with a towel, and everyone takes a roll and places it on the tablecloth next to his or her plate. I always thought this was just our way of eating dinner rolls–but little did I know that this is actually a tradition that dates back to the Pennsylvania Dutch folk in the 18th and 19th centuries.
But where can you find the real historical recipes–and the stories behind them? Look no further than our new book, Dutch Treats, which releases on September 15, 2016.
In Dutch Treats: Heirloom Recipes from Farmhouse Kitchens, William Woys Weaver provides a recipe for Sugar or Kissing Buns (also known as Zuckerweck odder Kimmichweck in Pennsylvania Dutch) based on Peter Ranck of Lebanon County’s Fordeeg (foundation dough) recipe. According to Weaver, much like the tradition my family has adopted, the Pennsylvania Dutch set the sugar buns directly on the table near their plate. Weaver’s recipe makes a normal dough into a sweet treat or a tasty complement to your holiday meal. Check out his recipe below (excerpted from the book) and as well as a copy of Dutch Treats for more great recipes like this one–books are available now from outlets such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Powell’s.
1/2 ounce (15g) dry active yeast
2 cups (500ml) lukewarm whole milk (98F/37C)
5 cups (625g) bread flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon (5g) freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces (250g) unsalted butter
1 cup (250g) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) rosewater
2 tablespoons (30ml) honey
Coarse sugar (sand sugar or crystal sugar)
Proof the yeast in the milk. While the yeast is proofing, sift together the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar, then combine this with the proofed yeast and rosewater. Make a valley in the center of the sifted flour and add the butter mixture. Work to form soft, pliant dough. Dust a clean work surface with flour and knead the dough until spongy (about 5 to 8 minutes). Cover and set aside to double in bulk. Knock down and divide the dough into 4-ounce (125g) balls. Set the balls side by side in pairs on ungreased baking sheets. Cover and let the buns rise 20 to 25 minutes.
While the dough is recovering, preheat the oven to 350F (180C). After the buns have risen again, bake them in the preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until they tap hollow on the bottom.
While the buns are baking, dissolve the honey in 2 tablespoons (30ml) of hot water. As the buns come out of the oven, immediately brush them with the honey mixture and then scatter sugar over them. Cool on racks.[shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="4643021"]
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