Hey, there! New recipe! Franzbrötchen (alternative spelling: franzbroetchen NOT franzbrotchen) are my favourite yeast based bake ever. They are like cinnamon buns but also better. They are sweet, moist, fluffy, gooey, crispy, and an incredible effective comfort food.
But before we talk about those absolutely delicious treats, I’d love to share a tiny update on what’s been happening in my life and some thoughts about blogging. If you’re just here for the franzbrötchen aka extra special deluxe cinnamon buns and don’t want to read a long blog post about something else, feel free to press the “jump to recipe” button right below the first picture.
So, I have been MIA again. Life has been stressful mostly because of work and homeschooling and all those things that happen to many people right now. Not complaining. Before life in Germany went down the pandemic spiral again in November last year, I spent a lot of time with my blog. Not only did I develop a couple of new recipes and practiced taking better pictures (that never gets old), I also read up on how to become a food blogger. I had been blogging for so long already and blogging for fun seemed like something nobody does anymore.
There’s so much stuff going on behind the scenes of blogging, so many things you have to do and know. Most of those things are not really things I like to do. For example, I could put ads on this blog. But honestly, I just can’t. They annoy the crap out of me. I know it’s a very common way to pay for your hosting services, recipe ingredients, equipment, etc. But I personally stopped reading blogs who bombard me with ad pop-ups, newsletter signups and now even video suggestions. I love to read recipe posts, get to know the person who posted the recipe, why they love it and what might be special about their version of a certain food. But if there’s a new pop up every two seconds, I just can’t do it. If I really have to find a recipe on such a site, I use an ad blocker. Don’t get me wrong, I know people need that advertisement money. That’s the deal. I get a free recipe after all. But I’d rather pay for it than click through a ton of stuff just to get there.
It’s not just the ads that make professional blogging unattractive for me. It’s also how blogging is taught by websites and books specialising in this field. There are fancy words like SEO optimisation and keyword research, target audiences and user intent. If you read up on blogging, you’ll learn that you need to solve problems for your customers so that your blog posts will “convert” and make you money somehow. The purpose of many blog posts apparently is to “outrank the competition” so you might show up on the first page of a search machine. Many recipe ideas therefore are inspired by google metrics and not by creativity. So yeah, blogging is a business. A business with a really steep learning curve and very little fun. At least for me.
Because many people have turned their blogs into a business, they sometimes don’t have readers anymore. They have customers. And these customers expect things. They expect exactly what they are looking for, they want it for free and they want it handed to them in the easiest and fastest way possible. For example, let’s say they look for a certain recipe. Maybe it’s a complicated recipe. They don’t know much about it, about its ingredients and common preparation methods. Also, they don’t have the time or the patience to do some research. So they find a blog recipe online. They never heard of the corresponding blog before. They don’t know the person who is running the site. But the pics look good, the site appeared on top of their search results and the recipe is for free. So they start baking or cooking. But the recipe doesn’t work out for them. They oversaw a step, or they changed up some ingredients they weren’t supposed to change. Maybe it was the recipe’s fault. It might have had a missing step or a mistake which they oversaw. And instead of asking what might have gone wrong they leave an angry comment. And they don’t even come back for an answer. Even if you take the time two write them an email, they might not reply. They moved on. You never hear from them again. Not a reader, nobody to connect with. These kind of commenters don’t want to talk to you. They don’t want to know what might have gone wrong. No time, already made up their mind. They are just an angry customer.
Personally I am glad that I do not have to worry about these kind of things. To me, it doesn’t matter if someone leaves a comment without a five-star-review. I don’t have to worry about my google rank. And honestly, this wouldn’t be a job I would like to do while keeping these things in mind. I really just want to keep blogging for fun. I have readers on my blog and people who love vegan baking. I don’t want customers. If someone leaves and angry reply and moves on that’s on them, I guess. They came to the wrong place, they came with the wrong expectations. So if I had to do this for money, I would probably spend too much time being annoyed about these kind of things. And I wouldn’t like it.
I want people to participate not to just consume. I don’t want do dumb down my content just because some SEO-tool tells me to use short sentences, a lot of tiny paragraphs and a ton of relevant keywords. I don’t want to explain stuff over and over. It’s insulting to people. So it seems I cannot follow guidelines when it comes to blogging. I am like an old cookbook, where the author just assumes that you know things when you start cooking. Probably not the best service, but yeah.
These are my opinions and I have come to the conclusion that I am not cut out for professional blogging. Even though a lot of people around me have given me the advice to “finally do something with my blog”, I always knew it was not for me. This has been a topic that has been on my mind for so long now. Making money with blogging sucks to me, I miss the community aspect of blogging. I will always miss it because I remember how it used to be. I am not a service provider and I want this to be fun. I love to bake, experiment with ingredients, find out about new foods, new methods. Share delicious recipes. Like these wonderful new Franzbrötchen!
Franzbrötchen (Cinnamon Buns Mande with Yeasted Puff Pastry)
These cinnamon buns are similar to danishes as they are based on the same kind of dough. The pastries are popular in Hamburg, where they originated but you can find them in many other (Northern) German cities, too. Franzbrötchen could have been inspired by French croissants, which may or may not have given them their name. (Franz may be short for französisch which means French and Brötchen means roll.) But this is only one theory. Another one is that they were invented when the French occupied parts of Germany in the 19th century. At that time bakers started to bake French bread, which at some point turned into the now famous cinnamon bun.
Of course there are several different ways to make franzbrötchen, but the most common way is by using Plunderteig. Plunderteig is a yeasted puff pastry. It is similar to regular puff pastry, but it is not the same. In Germany we use it to make danishes, croissants, and franzbrötchen. I also use it for my Danish tebirkes recipe. I admit that I cheated for my recipe. Plunderteig has to be folded and rolled out several times and I didn’t do that. I just put most of the fat in the filling. And still the yeast makes the dough soft and airy while all that fat you’re using makes it most and slightly chewy. For the filling a mixture of vegan butter, sugar and cinnamon is used. You could use soaked raisins, too.
As with most yeast based bakes, this recipe takes time. And you should give it that time. I know some people are intimidated by yeast. They might think they don’t have the patience for these doughs that look so demanding and elaborate. But the thing is, all this work and time is neccessary to get a special treat that tastes really good and also keeps longer than something you might have thrown together in 20 minutes with the help of baking powder. Also, don’t be sparing with the margarine and the sugar. Believe me, I tried it. It is not the same. Both of these ingredients are very important to the taste and texture of this pastry. The margarine will ooze out of the rolls while baking and you can use it to brush the baked goods with it. The sugar will caramelize and once it’s cooled it makes these buns crispy.
For an extra special treat I added 150 g of chopped chocolate to these franzbrötchen. This step is not necessary. It’s not part of the traditional recipe. But chocolate franzbrötchen are a thing. Also, I used the first chocolate I have helped making at my new job. Which makes these extra special to me.
Franzbrötchen are best eaten still warm or completely cooled. Preferably, you should serve them the same day you make them. But if you wrap them in foil they will be still pretty fresh the next day. I also love to freeze them as soon as they have cooled. Simply let them thaw whenever you feel like eating a serving or reheat them in your oven.
Franzbrötchen (Northern German Cinnamon Buns)
- 300 ml soy or other plant milk (1 1/4 cups)
- 20 g fresh yeast ( or 8 grams, 2 teaspoons active dry yeast)
- 50 g margarine, melted (3 Tbsp + 2 tsp)
- 500 g all-purpose flour (or German type 550) (4 cups + 2 Tbsp)
- 50 g sugar (¼ cup)
- ½ tsp salt
- 150 g cold margarine (⅔ cup)
- 150 g turbinado sugar (or regular sugar) (¾ cup)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 150 g finely chopped dark chocolate (5¼ oz)
- To make the dough, place the plant milk in a small saucepan and heat until lukewarm.
- Remove from heat and crumble fresh yeast into the milk. If using active dry, sprinkle it over the milk and stir.
- Place flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and pour milk mixture over the flour. Let sit for 10 minutes until the milk mixture looks bubbly.
- Place margarine in the saucepan you used for the milk and gently heat until melted.
- Remove from heat and pour over the plant milk mixture.
- Knead the dough until combined, for about 1 minute.
- Place a damp kitchen towel over the bowl and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Knead again until the dough is bouncy and smooth. This should take about 1-2 minutes.
- Cover the dough again and let the dough rest at room temperature (20°C) for about two hours, or until approximately doubled in size.
- Take the dough out of the bowl, punch it down, knead it briefly and shape into a ball.
- Place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle. (Approx. 50 x 35 cm)
- Cut cold margarine into very thin strips and place on top of the dough.
- Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough.
- Also sprinkle dark chocolate on top.
- Tightly roll the dough up, starting with the 50 cm side. Place on surface seam side down making sure to seal the edges of the dough.
- Cut into 12 pieces. Use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to press a deep dent into the middle of the rolls.
- Place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper and cover with kitchen towels. Let rise for 30 minutes.
- Place a deep dish baking sheet on the bottom of your oven and preheat to 250°C.
- Right before you place the first sheet with buns in the oven, boil about a cup of water and carefully pour it into the baking dish.
- Place one baking sheet at a time in the oven and immediately reduce temperature to 200°C.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- After about 10 minutes the margarine should have melted and oozed out of the rolls. Open the oven door and brush the tops with the melted margarine. Then resume baking.
- Repeat with the remaining rolls.
- Let cool to room temperature before serving.