I made: Buchteln (sort of)

Ok first of all, a caveat: what I made did not end up being AT ALL like traditional Buchteln, which are a kind of Austrian sweet yeast roll.  I started with a recipe for Buchteln, but after several frustrating issues, I gave up on the rolls and just made a giant loaf instead.  So, consider this a semi-Buchtel.  A Grosse-Buchtel, if you will.

The actual dough recipe itself is fairly straightforward and not entirely dissimilar from other sweet breads I’ve made recently, such as challah and brioche.  The major differences are that this recipe calls for milk instead of water, it uses melted butter, and it calls for the baker to shape several small rolls, each filled with apricot jam.

Problem 1:

  • I could not get the yeast to properly proof in warm milk.  I tried twice, with two different sources of yeast (one from a packet and once from a freshly opened jar).  I’m not sure if the problem was the temperature, or if it was specific to the milk itself.  It was highly frustrating and eventually I gave up and proofed the yeast in water, then added milk later.

My solution may have in part contributed to problem #2:

  • This was the most unreasonably liquidy dough recipe I have ever worked with.  I know I may have used excessive liquid in the first step discussed above, but I didn’t use THAT much excess.  I’m honestly mystified, because I double checked each measurement aside from the water/milk, and I know I included the correct amounts.
  • During the kneading phase, I ended up adding at least a cup of flour, even though the recipe says not to.  I was still worried because at the stage at which the dough was supposed to rise, it literally wasn’t even dough at all.  It was straight-up batter.
  • At that point, I left it alone for an hour and hoped that perhaps it would even itself out during that time.  Unfortunately, that didn’t work out… when I turned it out to punch down & shape after the rise, it was literally still batter.  I had to add probably another full cup of flour just to get it to hold somewhat of a shape… and it was STILL too liquidy/sticky to actually form rolls.  Every time I tried to make a roll shape, it just stuck to my fingers too much and started sliding around.  It was literally impossible to “fill” with apricot jam because it wasn’t even a dough at all.
  • At that point I finally just said “screw it” and I threw the entire mass of dough into the pan, hoping that it might at least be an edible bread.

Well, so the good news is, it actually was!  I baked it at 375 for 30 minutes, at which point it had risen to about double the height of the pan, and turned a lovely golden color.  I think it could have taken a longer bake at a lower temperature, because it collapsed somewhat and the innermost dough didn’t really fully cook.  However, it did turn out to be a very tasty sweet bread that I’ve enjoyed a lot.

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I would never, ever use this specific recipe again, unless it were to play a prank on someone.  I am still interested in the concept of the Buchteln so perhaps I will search for a better recipe and try again sometime.

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