Monday, May 25, 2009

Spratt/Bachman & Mellberg/McKenzie Family Cookbook 2008: German Twists

When I was a kid, every summer we'd have a big family picnic. My mom's one of 7 kids, and her parents were each one of several, and there were cousins, aunts, uncles, third cousins twice removed, kids, ancients, games, silliness, and fabulous food. The picnic sort of fell into memory when my generation hit their 20s, but now that we're older and have families of our own, it's come back with a vengeance. At the 2008 picnic, there were even representatives from the heartland -- North Dakota, where both Grandma and Grandpa came from. These relations brought with them a fabulous surprise: a family cookbook. The Spratt/Bachman & Mellberg/McKenzie Family Cookbook 2008, to be precise. Lots of family recipes, some of which I remember from picnics, some of which Mom remembers from visiting the family farm as a little girl. There's also stories, some of which made Mom laugh outloud. This week, we'll delve into the family. First, a note from the compiler:
The cover of this cookbook was a special find, thanks to Marjorie Pengilly Mostad for bringing it to our attention. It is taken from an actual Betty Crocker magazine with Grandpa Andrew Bachman's address on the address label, and a hand written note explaining that these twists were made by Grandma Bachman. I don't remember ever eating the twists, but the recipe is in this book, and I am told they were delicious.
Well, the compiler may never have had 'em, but my mom remembers them well. The good folk at Betty Crocker may have called them Cinnamon Twists, but along the way, the name changed.
German Twists (Cover Photo)
Magdalena Berger Bachman

1 c. lard or butter
1 c. sour cream
1 cake yeast
2 beaten eggs
3-1/2 c. flour
dash of salt

Mix shortening and flour until crumbly. Beat eggs, add cream and yeast. Add to flour mixtures and knead a little. Put in fridge overnight with wet cloth on top. Take little pieces (about handful) of dough sprinkle board with sugar and put some on top of dough. Roll out and then fold over and over until dough is small. Put more sugar on board and on top of dough as you roll. Cut in strips 1 inch wide and 3 or 4 inches long. Twist and put on greased pan. Bake until real light brown at 375 degrees. Very good and flaky.
I'm sure this tastes just fine. I'm not sure where the heck the sugar comes from, nor how this is supposed to be a cinnamon twist when there's no cinnamon. Frankly, I think there's missing information between "dough" and "sprinkle," and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the sugar in question is cinnamon sugar. There was always cinnamon sugar about the house as I was growing up, so I'm guessing that a common enough thing in our family. I think that if you want to try this out, you're going to have to be patient as all heck with it, and/or find some other instructions for yeast-raised pastry dough and use them as a crib sheet. Try it. What the heck. Worst thing that happens is you have just okay pastry as opposed to stellar pastry.


Whatever this recipe is, it is not the cinnamon twist on the front of the cookbook. Here's another German Twist recipe, from the glorious internet, such that you can see how it should actually be rolled and handled:

3 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 c. shortening (part butter)
1 pkg. yeast
1/4 c. warm water
3/4 c. sour cream
1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks, well beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

Refrigerate 2 hours. Using half of dough, roll into 8x16 inch rectangle. Sprinkle with sugar and fold each end into the middle and roll out again in rectangle and sprinkle with sugar. Do this 3 times using 1/2 cup sugar for each half.

After the third time, roll out in a rectangle and cut in 1x4 inch strips and twist. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen.
There are TONS of recipes out there for German Sour Cream Twists, and clearly, that's what Magdalena Bachman's recipe is for. Don't use cinnamon sugar (or, heck, do, but know you'll be concocting a different sort of beast). And plan on a whole cup of sugar for your rolling and twisting.

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