Naan wasn’t the only thing inspired by bread week on GBBO. As someone with a deep and abiding love for waking up to the smell of Pillsbury rolls in the oven (even better if it’s the orange ones), I thought doing a Germanized version of the Chelsea bun might be a great idea. And it just so happened that Franzbrötchen had been one of the first things suggestions I got when I asked what recipes I should try out from Classic German Baking.
Luisa Weiss describes them as “a flaky, buttery cross between croissants and squashed cinnamon rolls.” Not exactly a Chelsea bun, but not completely far off… and exactly the sort of sweet snack that would travel perfectly. This was important, since we were leaving the following day to drive down to South Tyrol and I consider road snacks to be an integral part of the planning process. It was on.
Side note: did anyone else grow up eating everything made with Crisco? Do you all get as much enjoyment as I do out of putting entire slabs of butter (slightly more than this block, in the case of Franzbrötchen) into their recipes?
Not only is yeast fairly new to me, I’m also a rookie when it comes to making pastry. I guess if you count Strudel dough as pastry, I’ve done that, but that is it. Frankly, pastry seems rather intimidating. And why would anyone bother to make it themselves when you can buy it frozen? In fact, when I googled “puff pastry” just now to find a description on Wikipedia, the first thing that comes up isn’t the Wiki page, but a page from Pepperidge Farm. What kind of weirdo makes their own pastry? Apparently today, this kind.
First up, the dough. I got my yeast going (still using fresh yeast today), and let it sit as required for half an hour.
The yeast well-rested and (hopefully, judging by the foam) activated, it was mixed in with the the buttery goodness in the large bowl. A mess of kneading later, I had a ball ready to rest for a few more hours.
A note on timing: pastry dough is not for the impatient. I started this business at about 11am and the first Franzbrötchen came out of the oven at about 5pm. It’s a commitment. Especially if you’re hungry.
Dough rested, it was time to roll. It’s not exactly a square but I was happy to have an awkward shape that was more or less the correct size. That was the easy part. Rolling out the butter proved much more difficult. I suspect I was still too conservative when it came to the liberal dusting of flour on the butter because I could not for the life of me keep it from sticking to my rolling pin, hence the torn mess. But I got it to again, more or less the correct size, and onto my dough.
A bit more dough origami, and my pastry package was ready for the fridge.
The goal of puff pastry is to create thin layers of dough, which meant several more rounds of rolling, folding, and chilling. At the end, I sliced into my final package, hoping and praying to the pastry Gods to see some sort of layers.
We have layers! Cue the trumpets!
Half of my roll went back to the fridge and I went back to rolling. Besides the butter squishing out of the cut end and making my mess even messier, that part went well. I had yet another awkward square that was more or less the correct size! Feel free to judge me for still defaulting to using the ‘inch’ size of the tape measure.
The dough was sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and rolled yet again.
The next step was a bit odd. It feels incredibly rude to squash this dough ruthlessly… but that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. I was far too gentle on my first few but in my defense, I’d been babying the hell out of this dough up to this point and generally it’s frowned upon to squish your baby. Luckily I got over it in the end.
The top right corner was where I started. I still think this looks weird, but the oven shall help!
By the time the oven timer went off, I was dying to stick one of these puppies directly into my mouth. BV on the other hand, had decided that it was finally time for him to get around to showering. That meant me dancing around the house in anticipation until he finally finished his toilette and joined me in the living room for a taste test.
Batch number one smelled like heaven. Batch number two was in, and it was finally time to eat. Thank goodness.
So warm, so flaky, so buttery. The sugar and cinnamon caramelize during the bake, making all those edges crispy and sweet and delicious. They were worth the wait for sure! I easily could’ve eaten at least two more that night, but we opted for restraint.
When the second batch came out, that decision got harder. I mean, look at these things!
Yes, I absolutely scooped up that cinnamon-sugary goodness that was left on the paper and ate it. We don’t leave sugar behind.
Germany on the other hand, we did. We had a date with South Tyrol… and our road snacks were a welcome addition. Here’s one of them admiring a rest stop parking area somewhere in Austria. Or Italy? I think Austria… don’t quote me.
After these yeast-related bakes, I’m happy to say that it doesn’t freak me out quite as much anymore. There’s no way it’s going to work every time, but I plan to try a lot more bakes with yeast. That’s what this whole thing is about, right?