Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our family's secret recipe: German Twists

I wouldn’t have believed this unless site meter told me it was so, but many people stumble upon my blog/site from the search words, “German Twist Cookies.” Until this digital confirmation, I would have thought my immediate family was the only humans on earth familiar with this delicacy since I’ve never seen them anywhere except my family Christmases.

If you’re not familiar with them, I wrote about the process of epic baking them here a couple of years ago, but I never wrote out the recipe. Something I intend to correct today.

Great Grandma’s (Rick’s?) German Twists

1 package of yeast dissolved in ¼ cup of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar

At least 3 ½ cups of flour (You’ll need closer to 5)

1 tsp. salt

1 cup of Crisco (seriously)

1 cup sour cream (full fat version, it’s Christmas)

3 eggs-- 1 whole, 2 yolks

1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon
(Actually, I have no idea if these are the measurements, you have to just eyeball it, and I don’t think you can screw it up)

Clear your calendar for the day. Take a deep breath and begin.

Mix the flour, salt and Crisco in the mixer on low until it is dry and crumbly. Add the sour cream, eggs--one at a time until blended. Stir in yeast mixture gently to combine.

You will notice at this point that the dough is more bread-y than cookie-y. That’s what you want. If it seems too wet, add a little more flour, but it should be moist, not dry.

Place the whole bowl into a warm (heated but off) oven with a pastry cloth tucking it in. Sing the dough a lullaby. Let it rise and breathe in the oven for two hours.

After it has doubled in size, knead it gently and return it to the oven to rise another hour. Wonder why you didn’t just make Snickerdoodles.

Now comes the fun part. And by “fun” I mean “not really.” Divide the dough in half. Take your working half and roll it out on long sheets of plastic wrap lining your work surface. (You need a lot of room for this.) Roll it out into a long rectangle. The bigger the better. Sprinkle half of the rolled out dough with the sugar mixture--then using the plastic wrap to help you, fold the dough over onto itself. Roll out again, repeat the sprinkle on the opposite side, 3 more times until you finally get a long log-like thing of dough-y goodness.

If you have made it this far, congratulate yourself with a glass of wine or seven. I think a nice Malbec goes nicely with Crisco.

Okay, cut the log into ¾-1 inch strips. Give the middle a little twist as you place onto your Silpat-lined cookie sheets. Or if you recently burned your Silpat in a freak broiler accident--just use parchment paper. Trust me--these things become molten cinnamon sugar lava when hot--you need something to help get them off.

Bake in a 350 oven for 15-17 minutes. Watch them--they suck if you burn them. And don’t forget you’ve got the other half of your dough in the oven before you bake that in the bowl. That that I’ve done that before or anything. I’ve just heard...

Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring them to cooling racks, because you should use as many dishes as possible for this recipe.

Realize you now have to repeat the process with that other half of the dough and alternately weep and rejoice.

With any stroke of luck, they should look like this:

This recipe makes between 3 and 5 dozen depending on your rolling pin skillz, but feeds the soul of all who taste it.

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