The word schnecken means "snails" in German. They are sweet enough to be served for dessert, but really shine as a breakfast pastry.
Tasting like a cross between a sticky bun and rugelach, these glazed, nut- and currant-filled pastries check all the indulgence boxes.
- 1 packet (¼ oz/7 g) active dry yeast (2¼ tsp)
- ½ cup (100 g) plus 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ cup (60 ml/2 fl oz) warm water (43°C/110°F)
- 3½–4 cups (490–560 g) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus more for kneading and rolling
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¾ cup (175 ml/6 fl oz) milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 115 g (4 oz) cream cheese, cut into pieces, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1½ cups (155 g) pecan halves, roughly chopped
- 1¼ sticks (5 oz/140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1¼ cups (225 g) light brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (140 g) dried currants or raisins
- 1 stick (4 oz/115 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (180 g) light brown sugar
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Rising time: 1.5-2 hours
1. To make the dough, in a large bowl, stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, and the warm water. Let sit until foaming, 5–10 minutes.
2. In a second bowl, whisk together 3½ cups (490 g) flour, the remaining ½ cup (100 g) sugar, and the salt.
3. Stir the milk, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest into the yeast mixture. Add the flour mixture and stir until a wet dough comes together.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead well, adding the softened cream cheese pieces a few at a time, and adding enough additional flour (up to ½ cup/70 g) to achieve a supple, slightly tacky dough, about 10 minutes. (The kneading can also be done in a stand mixer with a dough hook, 5–7 minutes.) Grease a large bowl with the oil, add the dough, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (cling film) or a clean tea towel and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 1½–2 hours.
5. Meanwhile, make the filling:In a food processor, combine the pecans, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until a smooth paste forms.
6. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas Mark 5).
7. Meanwhile, make the caramel glaze. In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, and salt. Divide the glaze evenly between two 23 × 33 cm (9 × 13-inch) baking dishes, smoothing across the bottom of each.
8. Gently punch down the dough, turn out onto a floured surface, and divide in half, keeping 1 piece covered in the bowl while working with the remaining piece. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle 6 mm (¼ inch) thick.
9. Evenly spread half of the filling over the dough, leaving a 6 mm (¼-inch) border around the edges. Evenly sprinkle half of the currants over the top. Starting at one of the long ends, roll the dough up tightly like a jelly roll (Swiss roll). Using a sharp knife, cut the roll crosswise into 2.5 cm (1-inch) segments. Transfer the rolls to one of the baking dishes, nestling each one into the glaze. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, filling, and currants, fitting them into the second baking dish.
10. Bake, rotating the dishes front to back halfway through, until golden brown and cooked through, 20–25 minutes.
11. Meanwhile, line 2 large baking sheets with baking (parchment) paper.
12. Remove the baking dishes from the oven and let sit until the glaze stops actively bubbling, 2–3 minutes. Invert the schnecken onto the prepared baking sheets, spooning any extra glaze left in the baking dish on top. Let cool slightly and serve warm.
The Jewish Cookbook by Leah Koenig (Phaidon $65, hbk). Photography by Evan Sung.