So yesterday was a public holiday here, not in all of Germany but just in the state that I live in and one other. It was a religious holiday, and it celebrates (for those who are into such things) the founding of the Protestant religion by Martin Luther. I don’t know too much about it but one thing I have learned is that, like Hot Cross Buns at Easter, there is a particular tasty treat associated with the holiday.
My lovely friend Sabine was the one to mention these so-called Reformationstagbrötchen, or Reformation Day Bread Rolls, to me. She even went so far as to offer to give me a how-to. I took her up on the offer and yesterday I went over to her place, and we got cooking.
Me being me, I haven’t got progress photos. The basic bread was made with milk, flour, a little sugar and a block of yeast. I’ve cooked with yeast a couple of times but only with the little sachets with yeast pellets that look like sand. This was a greyish block that was about 2x2x4cm, and lighter than it looked. I had to crumble it up and put it in the milk, which was in a little well made in the flour/sugar in the bowl. Yeast feels weird; cool and soft and it sticks to your hands without being sticky at all, if that makes sense. (no, Luci, it doesn’t. Go learn English again, you’ve forgotten how it works). It’s like a super-soft plasticine, but it smells like fresh bread instead of plastic. It was interesting. So we let that sit to rise a little in the milk, and Sabine’s sunny warm kitchen was the perfect place for that. Meanwhile we chopped almonds and raisins and crystallised lemon. Once the yeast had done its thing for a while, we mixed all the chopped stuff in and kneaded the dough a little, let it rise again and then rolled it out. The whole yeast thing was the most difficult part of this (for me). The actual buns are made by rolling the dough fairly thin, cutting out squares, and folding all the corners in to the middle. Press down on that middle point and then put a dollop of strawberry jam in the middle.
The significance of these buns is that they symbolise a sacred symbol of Reformation Day, which is a white outline of a rose, with a red heart in the centre. This strawberry jam was homemade so it isn’t as bright as the store-bought stuff, but it tasted excellent.
So that’s pretty much it. Just bake, let cool, then glaze to finish. Here’s the recipe:
For those of you who can’t read German, especially with my blurry photography, here’s the English version. It’s part remembering and part translation. Sabine – if you’re reading this, please let me know if I’ve messed it up!
Reformation Day Bread Rolls
40g baker’s yeast
50g butter, at room temperature
50g sweet almonds, blanched and peeled
1tbsp crystallised lemon
1tsp lemon zest
~200g strawberry jam
1. Sift flour into a bowl, add sugar. Make a well in the flour and add 8tbsp milk into the well. Crumble the yeast into the milk. Sprinkle some flour over the top, then cover bowl with a tea towel and leave in a warm place until the yeast bubbles up in the milk (maybe 10-15 minutes). Meanwhile finely chop almonds, raisins and crystallised lemon.
2. Once the yeast has done its thing, add the chopped-up things, lemon zest, and butter, and mix through. Cover again and let sit in a warm place (if it’s a cold day and your oven is good enough, this could be in the oven at 50 degrees).
3. Wait until dough doubles in size.
4. Knead again and roll out onto a floured surface. Cut into squares – the recipe says 12x12cm but it depends on how big you want the finished product to be. It will end up half the width of the cut square. Fold the corners in to the middle, press down and add enough jam to fill the hollow but not flowing out. Let sit to rise again, for 10 minutes or so.
5. Bake at 200-220 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they start to brown.
6. Glaze. The glass was just powdered sugar, lemon juice and a little water. Once the buns are cooled, brush a little glaze over the pastry.
7. EAT. They’re yummy. Not too sweet, though I’m sure you could add more sugar if you really wanted to.
They taste a little like hot cross buns, but sweeter. I highly recommend it!
This was my first foray into German desserts (I think?), and I’m definitely satisfied. Thanks Sabine!