Franzbrötchen mit Apfel
I must confess, I really enjoy a good pastry with my coffee. Flaky layers, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, with a bit of sweet but not overly sugary. Now it is not very often that I actually act on this love affair with breakfast baked goods, but every once in a while there is no fighting the urge. I first learned of this pastry on a trip to Munich a few years ago. The hotel had these wonders nestled in with other delightful breads on a breakfast buffet, and the interesting shape of the croissant-like cinnamon roll caught my attention.
Like many European pastries, the Franzbrötchen (French roll) is not overly sweet, the star of the roll is the soft layers of the croissant. This roll originated in Germany after Napoleon’s troops had occupied Hamburg in the early 1800’s, and most likely got its name from the French croissant or Französisch in German. Originally found only in Hamburg, the popularity of this roll spread and it is now enjoyed all over Germany.
I had kind of forgotten about his delight until just recently. I have been taking German language classes and to aid my pronunciation I have been streaming German television programs. The other morning I was watching “Guten Tag Deutschland”, the German equivalent of Good Morning America. The show had a segment called Essen & Trinken (food and drink) and the hosts were making this easy version of Franzbrötchen which caught my eye. The traditional way to make this roll is done in the same fashion as croissants. Layers of dough laminated with butter and folded and rolled and allowed to rise, a rather lengthy project. This recipe however used prepared puffed pastry and for a twist they added some apple. It was particularly fun because I actually understood part, not all, of what the hosts were saying, and I realized how easy this would be. So the other morning I busted a move and put these together to enjoy with our coffee. I will say they were quite delicious, not as good as the real thing of course, but for a quick and easy breakfast pastry, these rolls are a definite winner.
Two sheets of pastry dough are required. Roll the sheets rather thin and as close to the same size as you can. I used Pepperidge Farms puff pasty and rolled it to about 14″ x 20″. Set one aside while you begin to build the roll. Brush the first sheet from edge to edge with melted butter and dust evenly with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, I added cardamom. The cinnamon and sugar should not be too thick just. Squeeze as much liquid as you can from the shredded apples and spread them evenly over the dough, again not too thick. Top this with the second sheet, patting it down to remove air gaps and to flatten it for easy rolling. Brush the second sheet with melted butter followed by another sanding of the sugar and cinnamon. And be sure to enjoy that fresh squeezed apple juice!
Roll the pastry up to form a roll without any air pockets. Then carefully slice the log into pieces about 2½” – 3″ long. After trimming the ends I got 8 rolls out of the log. Then using the handle of a wooden spoon press down in the center of each piece about three quarters of the way through. Don’t break the roll in half but you do want to press hard enough to form a butterfly looking roll.
Place the rolls 3″ – 4″ apart on a parchment lined baking tray, be sure not to crowd them. You will want to use parchment, melted sugar is a tough one to clean up and might also cause your rolls to stick. Silpats do not work because they will not allow the rolls to brown on the bottom. Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes or until they have taken a nice golden brown color. Be sure to let them cool a bit before devouring. Remember apple and sugar fillings are hot.
- 2 sheets Pepperidge Farms puff pastry dough
- 1 stick unsalted butter 8 Tablespoons melted
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 2 apples grated
- Position rack in the center of oven and heat to 400°F. Line 2 baking trays with parchment.
- Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Mix sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom in a small bowl.
- Shred the apple into a large bowl with a course grater, stop at the core and be careful not to get any seeds.
- Thinly roll the sheets of puff pastry on a lightly floured board to about 14” x 20”. Fold one in half with a towel and set aside.
Brush the first dough sheet with butter, completely covering the entire sheet. Spread half of the sugar mixture evenly over the dough.
Taking handfuls of the apples squeeze out as much juice as you can and spread them thinly over the dough. You may not use all of the apple depending on the size and how much your grated.
- Top with the second sheet of dough and pat to remove air and seat the apples. Brush with the remaining butter and sand with the sugar. Roll up into an even log taking care to not leave air pockets.
- Trim the ends and cut the log into pieces about 2 ½” – 3” long. Using the handle of a wooden spoon press down through the center about three-fourths of the way through the dough. Place on a baking tray 3” to 4” apart. Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until the pastry has a deep color. Allow to cool on a wire rack before enjoying.
*** Remember fruit fillings can be hot! ****
The traditional rolls are filled only with sugar and cinnamon; however it is not uncommon to find them with fruit or shaved chocolate too.