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ZWETSCHGEN- ROHRNUDELN

{ Sweet, plum filled yeast buns }

Today, I will dive into the world of — MEHLSPEISEN — will you join me? Literally, ‘flour foods’, they include all kinds of delicious things: Sweet pastries and danishes filled with poppy or nut pastes, perfect with coffee. Warm dishes to be eaten as a full meal, for lunch: Kaiser-schmarren, pancakes, rice or semolina puddings, Strudel and sweet dumplings. A more old-fashioned meaning of the word also includes vegetarian food neither sweet nor made with flour, like omelettes or noodles.

Traditionally, these dishes were eaten during fasting periods like Lent (but until the 1960ies there were about 150 fast days a year for devout catholics!); fish would have been way too expensive to be eaten so frequently for most. But if you ever visited Southern Germany, Austria or any part of the former Habsburg Monarchy, finding yourself in a coffee house, bakery or inn, you already know that Mehlspeisen are still very much enjoyed today, any time of the day or year.

Look how vast their dominion once was – yes, it even included large parts of northern Italy, Tuscany, parts of Russia and the Netherlands!

I’ll show you how to make yeasted buns, barely sweet, fruit-filled and baked. Depending on whether you are in Bavaria, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia or Hungary, you might find them as Buchteln, Wuchteln, Rohr- or Ofennudeln, buchty or bukta. I’m from Bavaria so I call them — ROHRNUDELN — Let’s start!

• INGREDIENTS •

Gather your - 1/2 kg flour, or a bit more, - 1/4 l lukewarm milk - 1/8 kg softened butter, - 2 yolks & 1 whole medium egg, - 1 packet of dried yeast, 7 g that is, - a tablespoon full of sugar, or two, & a pinch of salt. It’s my mother-in-law’s recipe and there is the the little piece of scrap paper where I scribbled it down.

Mix it all up: flour with yeast, then add milk and sugar, finally butter, eggs, salt. The dough will be sticky at first, but with patience it will come together into a smooth and elastic ball. Let it rise until about double its size, like you see it here, then punch the dough down, knead together again, and leave it alone for a second rise.

In the meantime, let’s make a filling. Any kind of jam can be used and fresh fruit – apricot halves! sour cherries!! – would also be great. But plums, Zwetschgen, are a classic and in season. Slice them up and cook with lemon juice, a little sugar, ginger and lemon thyme; just enough to break them up, then thicken with a bit corn starch. There you have quick plum preserves.

Don’t worry too much about amounts – just use up the fruit you have lying around and keep tasting to adjust it being too sweet or tart. Fill leftovers in a jar and keep in the fridge; you will love them with yoghurt and/or granola!

The dough has risen beautifully again – it should be perfect.

Assemble it all: • the dough, punched down and kneaded into a ball one last time, • plum preserves, or whichever filling you prefer, • & a well buttered baking dish.

Divide the dough into 12 roughly equal pieces, roll into balls and flatten.

Put a spoonful of fruit in the middle – don’t be tempted, like me, to overfill; it will be more difficult to close. Gather the dough around it and pinch together the ends.

Place the buns into your prepared dish, one close to the next one, with the seam sides down. It’s allright, if they’re not the same size, after rising and baking they will look great.

They had time for one final rise, while the oven has been preheating, to 180 degrees Celsius. Brush with some milk and melted butter, before putting them in.

Bake until golden brown, about 15–25 minutes. When in doubt, lightly tap one, it should sound a bit hollow. These got almost too dark, but it’s not as bad as it looks …

… especially after being covered with a most generous shower of powdered sugar – but first let them cool down just a bit (10 minutes are fine).

Dig in and enjoy! Rohrnudeln are lovely still hot, with some vanilla sauce, for lunch; warm, as a dessert, with the powdered sugar I have mentioned. But they are just as nice cold …

for reading along, and find me on Instagram @lem_monade, if you want.

• THANK YOU •

… so save some and have half one for breakfast, with hot milky coffee or tea – but better take care that your cat doesn’t steal the crumbs!

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