What do you get when you cross a croissant (a.k.a. crescent roll) with a cinnamon bun? That’s right! You get a German pastry whose name I cannot properly pronounce–Franzbrötchen.
Translated to “French bread rolls” in English, the Franzbrötchen consists primarily of laminated dough and cinnamon sugar–mmm, excellent. Another distinct feature associated with the Franzbrötchen is their bug-eyed chameleon head-like figure. In fact, that’s what compelled me to hand-make these yeast-leavened bread rolls.
Although the dough is laminated, it should be noted that the flakiness of the Franzbrötchen isn’t comparable to the croissant. Their texture is more akin to danish pastry, and they’re certainly much, much simpler to prepare than their French relatives, the croissants. In spite of that, I still managed to botch them up…
(This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.)
The primary objectives for the Franzbrötchen are the following:
Adapted from Elizabeth’s Franzbrötchen recipe, the following adjustments were made:
Additionally, if available, I’ve included brand names of the food products I used (please see the tables below). Disclaimer: This isn’t an endorsement. I’m simply indicating the names of the branded products used in my baking experiment.
Yield: 19 Franzbrötchen
Total Prep Time: N/A
Total Bake Time: 25 + 25 + 25 minutes
|All-purpose flour / Plain flour, Unbleached||500 g||Gold Medal|
|Instant Yeast||8 g|
|Caster sugar||30 g||SIS|
|Salt||2.5 ml or 1/2 tsp|
|Whole milk / Full cream milk, Room temp.||250 g||Meiji|
|Unsalted Butter, Room temp.||70 g||Vire & Elle|
|Water, Room temp.||N/A|
|Unsalted Butter, Chilled||200 g||Vire & Elle|
|Granulated white sugar||160 g|
|Ground cinnamon||5 ml or 1 tsp||McCormick|
|Chicken Egg, Whole, Room temp.||N/A|
|Plain flour / All-purpose flour, Unbleached||N/A||Gold Medal|
|Microwave convection oven, Refrigerator, Sheet pans, Parchment paper, Plastic wrap, Aluminum foil (Kitchen funnel), Spatula, Whisk, Strainer, Bowls, Mixing bowls, Measuring cups, Graduated cylinder (Measuring spoons), Mechanical kitchen scale, Chinese chef’s knife, Paring knife, Spoons, Chopsticks, Pastry brush, Cutting board|
Warning: Do not attempt my “recipes” (i.e., experiments) without considering the following; Variations in room temperature, humidity, altitude, food products, kitchen equipment and utensils, techniques and methods, amongst other factors, will influence the outcome of your baked goods.
Before I began, I measured, prepared, and organized my ingredients and kitchen equipment. This includes lining the sheet pans (9 x 11.5 x 1.5 in) with parchment paper.
Step 1: As my mind blossomed with bread-related thoughts, I assembled the flour, yeast, strainer, and mixing bowl.
“I really hope I don’t mess this up.”
Step 2: After sifting the flour and yeast into the mixing bowl, I whisked the two ingredients until they were well blended.
Step 3: Next, I fetched the softened butter (refer to “dough” ingredients).
Step 4: Using my fingers, I then rubbed the butter into the flour.
I pondered, “Why can’t I just pour melted butter onto the flour?”
After doing some brief research, I learned that it’s presumably better to “rub” or “cut” butter rather than mix melted butter into the flour. According to a few Internet sources, it’s maintained that the former technique (i.e., rubbing or cutting butter) helps evenly distribute the butter throughout the flour. Based on this claim, I assume that the flour may absorb the butter too readily if the latter technique (i.e., mixing melted butter) is implemented.
Step 5: Once the butter was rubbed into the flour (now resembling fine bread crumbs), I gathered the caster sugar, salt, and strainer. Shortly afterwards, I sifted the sugar and salt onto the butter-flour mixture.
Step 6: With a whisk, I thoroughly blended the mélange. (Mélange is the French word for mixture. I’ve no other reason to use this word but to sound intelligent. *Props monocle to eyeball.*)
Step 7: Tepid milk, check. Spatula, check.
Note: The chilled milk was heated in the microwave oven at high heat for ten seconds.
Step 8: Gradually pouring the milk into the mixing bowl, I folded the said liquid into the dry ingredients. To my bewilderment, all of the milk I had on hand was absorbed, leaving itself as a dry shaggy mass, as shown above. I then promptly ran to the refrigerator and returned to the incipient dough with chilled milk.
Step 9: “Wait, should I warm the milk first? Nahhh…”
After incorporating an additional two or three tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) of milk into the dough, what resulted was a non-cohesive sticky mass.
Step 10: Thereafter, I sealed the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for twenty minutes. As I understand it, this rest period helps develop gluten–a structure-building wheat protein–thus shortening the kneading time.
Step 11: Upon completion of the dough’s rest period, I removed the plastic wrap from the mixing bowl. Suffice it to say, the dough’s appearance did not alter much.
Step 12: Set upon my cutting board, I kneaded the dough using the French kneading method. (This was my first time using the said kneading technique.) Astonished and amazed, within a span of a few minutes I felt the dough developing its suppleness, smoothness, and elasticity beneath my fingertips. However, after kneading the dough for a total of twenty minutes, I discontinued kneading, fearing that the yeast may convert too much sugar into ethanol and other byproducts. Thus, I proceeded to the next step, despite knowing that the dough was under-kneaded. (Big mistake!)
Step 13: Shaped into a ball, the dough was dusted with flour and transferred to the mixing bowl. I then sealed the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough undergo bulk fermentation. (For how long? Forty minutes. Where? In an inactive microwave oven.)
Step 14: After forty minutes had elapsed, the mixing bowl was removed from the inactive microwave oven. As shown above, the dough had doubled in size, flaunting its vein-like texture. As far as I know, that’s not a good sign.
Step 15: After dusting the cutting board with flour, I readied the spatula.
Step 16: With the spatula, I cautiously degassed the dough and pried it onto the flour-dusted cutting board. Using a pestle (I don’t have a rolling pin), I then flattened the dough into a 30.5 x 45.7 cm (12 x 18 in) rectangle–the dimension of my cutting board.
Step 17: Chilled butter, prepare yourself–into pieces you shall be!
Step 18: Uh-oh! The butter had begun to soften… Hastening myself, I covered two-thirds of the flattened dough with sliced butter.
Yes, I’m aware. My knife skills needs improvement.
Step 19: Next, I folded the un-buttered flap inwards, over one-half of the butter-covered dough.
Step 20: After folding the “double layer” onto the remaining butter-covered dough, the dough was re-positioned onto the centre of the cutting board. Once again, using the pestle, the dough was compressed into a 30.5 x 45.7 cm (12 x 18 in) rectangle. Thereafter, the dough was folded, as one would with a business letter.
Step 21: Oh, poop! (Pardon my language.) After completing the business letter tri-fold, I discovered that the dough had teared, oozing semi-solid butter.
Step 22: Subsequently, I loosely sealed the dough with plastic wrap, then placed the dough into the refrigerator to chill (at 3°C / 37°F) for twenty minutes. Hindsight, it would’ve been preferable to chill dough for a longer period.
Step 23: During the dough’s confinement in the refrigerator, I thoroughly washed and dried my counter top (i.e., desk top). After twenty minutes had elapsed, I relocated the dough from the refrigerator to my flour-dusted desk top. Moreover, I began to compress the dough, using the flour-dusted pestle.
Step 24: With a ruler, I inflicted pain upon my wrists for under-kneading the dough… Nahh, I’m just kidding. In actuality, the ruler was used to measure the dimensions of the flattened dough: 70 x 32 cm (27.6 x 12.6 in).
Step 25: Shortly afterwards, I brushed a thin layer of tepid water to the top surface of the dough.
Step 26: “Hey, where’s the cinnamon sugar?!”
Realizing that I had forgotten to prepare the cinnamon sugar beforehand, I hastily assembled the cinnamon, sugar, strainer, and mixing bowl.
Step 27: After sifting the cinnamon and sugar into the mixing bowl (and discarding the sugar clumps), I whisked the said substances until they were well blended.
Step 28: With the strainer, I evenly distributed the cinnamon sugar onto the flattened dough.
Step 29: Roll, roll, roll your dough, gently down the desk. Merrily, merrily, merrily–wait, no, I wasn’t merry at all. It wasn’t until now when I fully understood the ramifications of under-kneading my dough.
Additional note: as I rolled the dough, enclosed pockets of air and / or gas arose and hindered the rolling process. I ignored this issue and continued to roll the dough. In retrospect, I should’ve popped the bubbly pest, as it redistributed the cinnamon sugar.
Step 30: Once the dough was rolled, I pinched the seam closed, then turned the rolled dough with the seam-side down. (I didn’t remember to close the seam until after cutting a single portion from the dough. Oops!)
With a Chinese chef’s knife, I then divided the rolled dough into nineteen (unequal) portions. Afterwards, I pressed a chopstick into each roll. (The chopstick was pressed far enough to briefly make contact with the desk top.) I then inverted each roll, exposing their pinched seams.
Step 31: After becoming inverted, the rolls were set onto the sheet pans lined with parchment paper.
In the photo above are the less damaged rolls, many of which were extracted from the centre of the “mother” dough.
Step 32: In the photo above are the severely damaged rolls, many of which were extracted from the ends of the “mother” dough. Very unsightly, yes?
Step 33: Oh, silly me… I had failed to consider the expansion of the rolls during proofing and oven spring. Rectifying the problem, I set six rolls onto each sheet pan rather than eight rolls. To be more accurate, one sheet pan contained seven rolls, two of which were miniature size.
Next, I placed two sets of rolls into the refrigerator and proofed one set for twenty minutes at room temperature.
Meanwhile, I prepared the egg wash by beating one chicken egg with a fork. Once the proofing period was complete, I brushed the central ridges of the rolls, not the swirls, with the egg wash. Franzbrötchen aren’t often treated with egg wash, but I had done so because my microwave convection oven doesn’t brown foods very well.
Step 34: Preheated to 190°C / 374°F, I set the sheet pan and rolls into the microwave convection oven for a total of twenty-five minutes. I had checked for doneness at twenty minutes, but the rolls were still pale-yellow rather than golden-brown. What resulted were lopsided Franzbrötchen, blemished with yellow-brown spots. The aroma, however, was pleasing to my nasal cavity.
Step 35: Displayed above is the second batch of freshly baked Franzbrötchen. Similar to the first batch, they were proofed approx. ten minutes at room temperature and baked for twenty-five continuous minutes. The third batch of Franzbrötchen were prepared in the exact manner.
Step 36: Once baked, the Franzbrötchen were left to cool on plates for several minutes. Unfortunately, my cooling rack was far too small to accommodate each Franzbrötchen.
Note: The above is the second batch of deformed Franzbrötchen.
Step 36: The production of nineteen Franzbrötchen yielded the above. Not so bad when compared to my other baking experiments.
Within an hour after being baked, the crust of the bread roll was firm but slightly sticky to the touch, particularly in the region of exposed sugar granules (i.e., the “swirls”). In terms of taste, smell, and mouth-feel, the swirls of the roll was delicately sweet, rather chewy, and harboured a slight scent of cinnamon. In comparison, the roll’s crumb (excluding the swirls’) was marginally flakier, very moist, and overwhelmingly buttery in both smell and taste.
After an hour of being baked, the roll’s crust remained firm and slightly sticky to the touch. In contrast, the roll’s crumb became less moist (to a significant extent) and was thus dryer and chewier. Further, the odours and tastes of the roll had changed in intensity: the cinnamon scent was stronger and the buttery flavour of the crumb was not as dominating. Interestingly, the sweetness of the swirls was elevated, but not substantially.
After a day of being baked, the roll’s crust remained firm and slightly sticky to the touch. Additionally, the outer interior of the roll had staled (i.e., very firm and dry), whereas the inner interior possessed a tinge of moistness. In regards to odour, a faint smell of cinnamon was detected on the surface of the roll and the crumb had retained a moderate buttery smell and taste. Moreover, the swirls’ degree of sweetness had reverted to mild.
Note: the bread rolls were stored in an inactive microwave oven.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned from this baking experiment is this: Do NOT knowingly under-knead your dough, especially if a moderate to high degree of extensibility is required for shaping. (Well, duh!)
Taste-wise, I personally felt that my Franzbrötchen were under-sweetened. Perhaps ten to fifteen grams of additional sugar would suffice, but it all depends on individualistic taste preferences. My parents, on the other hand, adored the Franzbrötchen. I didn’t find this surprising as they’re not too fond of sweetness.
Further, I’d like to identify the reason(s) for my Franzbrötchen becoming overly lopsided or saggy. Was this the result of under-kneaded dough? Perhaps improper shaping of the dough? The convection function of my oven? Or a combination of the said factors?… Who knows? But if you suspect that you or somebody knows the answer, please don’t hesitate to contact me, as I’m very curious. To this day, it still irks me that the bread rolls came out distorted.
As always, farewell and happy baking! :)