by Barbara Hiebert
The dough moves in smooth
(The following excerpt is from the Mt. Lake recipe book Off the Mountain Lake Range.)
Any Saturday you can step into a Low-German Mennonite home and smell the delicious aroma of freshly baked Zwieback. The word "Zwieback" means "two-bake" and is the High-German pronunciation. In Low-German it is "tweback." The Zwieback sponge is similar to bread dough, although it is saltier, has more shortening and is not so firm as bread dough. After it has risen for several hours, the housewife deftly pinches off pieces of dough to form the Zwieback. She pinches two balls, one for the bottom and one for the top. The top is slightly smaller and is pressed into the bottom one so it will not slide off in the baking. Experience is invaluable in helping one develop the desired texture, lightness and shape.
In former times especially, small Zwieback were made for funerals and were called "Funeral Zwieback."
In many homes the fresh Zwieback are carefully guarded on Saturday to keep them from disappearing too quickly. Usually friends drop in or have been invited for Sunday "Faspa" and it would hardly do to run short. However, in most places enough are baked so that Saturday supper and Sunday breakfast also include a plate of them. Because they are very rich, no butter needs to be spread on them, but jelly is almost a must. Occasionally for Sunday "Faspa" you will find cold meat or cheese served with the "Zwieback."
As to the method of eating them, there are two schools of thought. There are those who love to "dunk" and those who believe dunking spoils the taste of the Zwieback. Either way is entirely acceptable.