bavarian yeast rolls

one of my favorite food memory from childhood are meatless friday lunches. growing up in Bavaria meant that on a friday it was either fish or a sweet, dessert like dish for lunch. “mehlspeise” as it was called, roughly translates to “flour dish”. these would be pancakes, or the scrambled version of them called “emperor’s mess or” also know as “kaiserschmarrn”, as well as less known recipes from wheat grits, left over rolls, or rice pudding, all of them usually served with preserved fruits or apple sauce and a healthy dash of cinnamon and sugar.

the one dish that stood out among all the delicious treats were yeast rolls, the bavarian version of them baked in milk and filled with preserved plums. my mother truly abhorred making yeast dough for reasons that were beyond my understanding at the time. i only knew that she would regularly turn to the most interesting vocabulary describing her frustration over the dough not rising appropriately yet one more time, although she had gone through all the steps and stages of mixing and proofing meticulously, and still there was a brick baking in the oven. this went on until that night she got invited to one of these events that started to pop up all over Munich in the late 70s: a tupperware party!

that day, when she unwrapped the delivery of her orders she had put in at the event, changed her and our life forever. she was know the proud owner of a yeast dough prepping set, complete with a big mixing bowl and lid, and some kind of shaker device with a wheel like insert to mix sugar, yeast and milk. the set came with detailed step-by-step instructions on how to mix all the ingredients in order to achieve the desired result of a well proofed and airy yeast dough. And miraculously it worked! From this moment on, my mother would make all these no-fuss yeast doughs for quick breads, pizza, and also the much favored yeast rolls.

To this day she will insist that nothing else works for the perfect dough but her bespoke tupperware yeast dough set. The result was, that for the longest time I also was convinced that a perfect yeast dough was impossible to achieve any other way. Well, let”s say somewhere down the line I learned it differently. Let me tell you that a yeast dough is 1) the quickest and easiest dough to prepare, and 2) the dough that loves to be stored for a while when made ahead. It actually improves with time.

recipe for bavarian yeast rolls for a 25×30 cm baking dish

ingredients for dough:
500g unbleached flour
20g fresh yeast or one package of dry yeast
250 ml warm milk
75g cane sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
80g butter, melted
1 egg

ingredients for filling:
about half a pound fresh or frozen pitted cherries, preserved cherries, preserved or fresh plums, apricots, or nothing.

extras:
50 g butter, for baking
1 cup of milk for baking
50g of sugar mixed with a tsp of cinnamon for sprinkling

directions:
prepare
the dough:
warm up the milk in a small pot until it starts steaming, let cool down to about 110°F or until warm to the touch. add a table spoon of sugar and the yeast. stir until sugar and yeast are resolved and let the mixture sit for about ten minutes until bubbly. pour flour into a large bowl, make a well in the center, add egg, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. pour yeast mixture into the flour mixture. With the kneading hook of a stand or hand held mixer knead the dough for about five minutes until it comes off the sides of the bowl forming a ball. put the dough into an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. in a draft free place, let the dough proof for about one hour at room temperature until it has doubled in size.

shape rolls:
with a table spoon, cut off pieces a little larger than golf ball size. on a floured surface or cutting board press them into a round shape. Set three to four cherries, or a teaspoon of preserve onto the dough, fold the dough around the filling, pinching the seams close, rolling them into a ball adding tension to the surface. set 25×30 cm baking dish on the stove, add 100 g of butter, melt on medium heat, place the rolls in rows on melted butter, cover baking dish with a tea towel and let the rolls rest for about 30 minutes.

bake rolls:
preheat the oven to 375°F. warm up the extra milk with sugar & cinnamon, pour over rolls, bake the rolls for about 45 minutes until golden brown. let them cool down in the pan, then turn them over onto a cutting board or serving platter.

eat them while still warm.

nikki+++

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