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Wienerbrau Memories

Aug 23, 2018

After reading “A Time-Traveled Treat” (May/June 2018), Katie Hunhoff’s story about Swedish kringle, Shirley Drefs of Corsica was inspired to write in with a recipe of her own — wienerbrau, a Danish pastry she learned to make as a youngster in 4-H. It’s an old recipe (the original version called for baker’s yeast) that involves working butter into a soft dough that is then formed into strips and filled with prune or apricot filling, baked, then topped with a simple frosting and nuts. Feel free to experiment with other fillings — almond is traditional, but Drefs has used cherry pie filing, with good results. The recipe makes a lot of flaky, delicious pastry that can be devoured immediately or frozen for later.


 

Shirley Drefs learned to make wienerbrau in 4-H. The Danish pastry is similar to a Swedish kringle.

Wienerbrau

Filling

2 pounds dried prunes or apricots

about 1/2 cup sugar

cinnamon (for prunes)

May be made a day in advance. Do not soak the fruit. Chop fruit if desired (the apricots can be tough), add water to cover, cook until soft and let cool. You may need to mash the prunes a bit. Stir in sugar to taste and sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Dough

1 1/2 cups milk, scalded and cooled

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

4 heaping teaspoons dry yeast (original recipe called for 2 cakes of baker’s yeast)

flour — as little as possible, about six cups

1/2 pound cold butter

Scald the milk in a saucepan or in the microwave. Cool, add sugar and salt, then beat in eggs. Add yeast into 2 cups of flour, mix well, then add to milk-egg mixture. Add flour until you have created a soft dough that is rollable and not sticky or stiff. It should feel similar to doughnut dough.

Cut butter into small slices. Roll dough out into a large circle. Place butter slices over one half of the circle, then fold remaining dough over the top. Fold in sides to create a square of dough, then roll again. Continue folding into a square and rolling until the butter has been worked in and is no longer in visible squares.

Cut the square of dough into 5 strips and roll each one into a rectangle about 4 inches wide and long enough to fit comfortably on your cookie sheets. Put 1/5 of filling in the middle of each strip. (Any leftover filling can be frozen and saved for the next batch of pastry.) Fold sides of dough over and pinch shut. Place strips on ungreased cookie sheets or large jelly roll pans. Two strips will usually fit on one pan.

Let dough raise for 20-30 minutes. “They’ll get fairly big,” Drefs says. “It’s got to feel kind of light if you lift the pan.” Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Cool, then frost with powdered sugar frosting, sprinkle with nuts and enjoy.

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