I remember a sticky-sweet television ad for a snack food. In it, the 20-something mom talks about how when she was a little girl and her mother gave a party her mother would serve this snack food. And NOW, she can serve it at her parties because SHE’s the MOM.
I tried that snack food. I didn’t care for it. Notice: I’m not naming the product.
But when I visited my grandmother, she served me schnecken. That’s German for snail. This delight is called a snail because the dough is rolled and looks much like a snail shell. She taught me that if something you bake turns out dry, you can put it in the freezer over night and it will be moist when you heat it in the morning. She always kept schnecken in her freezer.
My 12-year-old grandtwins are coming over tomorrow, and I want to serve them schnecken.
The catch with my grandmother’s recipe is that it calls for brown sugar. If I eat sucrose, my hands hurt. No way am I going to all the work of making schnecken if I can’t enjoy them.
So, I’ve spent months adapting the recipe. It’s not enough to substitute honey for brown sugar. Brown sugar contains molasses. Regular molasses is high in sucrose. But blackstrap molasses is very low in sucrose.
Honey is enough in the dough part of the schnecken. But honey with blackstrap molasses is key to both painting the dough and putting in the muffin wells.
Basically, the dough of a schnecken is any bread dough with a little extra honey so it is slightly sweet.
3/4 cup warm milk or almond milk
1 TBSP yeast
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp salt
3 cups whole wheat flour (possibly more, depending on the weather)
(No, my grandmother did not use whole wheat flour. She used white flour and was proud of it.)
Let the yeast soften and come to life in the milk. Add everything else. The dough should still be a bit wet. If it is goopy-wet, add more flour. Let the dough rise for at least 30 minutes. Longer if the house is cold.
Shake flour on a pastry rolling cloth or silicone sheet. Plop the dough onto it. Turn the dough over several times so it is coated with flour. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into a rectangle about 16" x 7".
In a sauce pan, melt:
1 stick of butter
1/3 cup honey
3 TBSP blackstrap molasses
Use this mixture to paint the rolled out dough.
Shake cinnamon over the painted dough
Put raisins on the dough, so there is about 1 raison every half inch in all directions.
Shake ground walnuts or pecans on the dough.
Roll up the dough across the long dimension, so the roll is still about 16 inches long. Squeeze the roll tightly, along its length. It will grow to about 18" long.
Pour the rest of the melted butter/ honey /molasses mix sort-of equally into the bottoms of 12 muffin cups. Put a pretty nut-half in the center of each one.
Slice the roll into 12 pieces. I do this by cutting in half, then each half is cut in half, and the remaining quarters are cut into thirds.
Put a flat cut edge of each schnecken into each muffin cup.
Allow to rise an hour, or longer if the house is cold. The dough should look puffy.
Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 20 to 30 minutes. Or longer if you put the dough in before the oven is hot. The dough will look slightly browned when it is done cooking.
Invert the muffin pan(s) (I use 2 6-cup muffin pans) onto a cookie sheet or big plates. The butter/ honey/molasses mix will drizzle down the sides. Allow the schnecken to cool.
You can eat them now, but they’ll be much more amazing if you put them in a baggie in the freezer over night and then heat them the next the morning. Microwave or oven. It doesn’t matter. You can wrap them in aluminum foil if you prefer that to plastic baggies. Either way, take them out of the wrapper before you heat them. It is safe to put aluminum wrapped schnecken in an oven. But any other combo makes a mess. No aluminum in a microwave. No plastic baggie in either an oven or a microwave.
These are delish, as my grandmother used to say.