Apparently, everyone has this feeling that in 'the good olde times', everything was better.
For my wife and my mother, apparently, this is especially true for 'Rosinenschnecken', or raisin snails. (Think raisin swirls, just baked individually)
In the good olde times, the raisin snails were still moist, they were not that dark, not that sweet, had more raisins, less frosting, less 'stuff' and you could pull them apart like little springs. Short, they were better all around.
So as it is my solemn duty to make my wife happy, I started making raisin snails 'like they used to be'. At least, like they used to be in the memory of my wife.
I think the results are a little plain, but then again, sometimes that is exactly what is needed. I have found myself repeatedly at work during the 4-o'clock-sugar-craze, silently wishing I had though of taking one of these snails with me.
They're good stuff, the way they don't make them any more.
raisin snails 'like they used to make them'
(makes about 16 snails)
for the snails:
1kg all-purpose flour
0,5l milk, lukewarm
300g butter, softened
1 sachet vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1g salt (about a quarter of a teaspoon)
200g raisins (sultanas)
four tablespoons condensed milk
for the glaze:
200g confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
The day before baking, mix the flour with milk, butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and yeast until just combined and still shaggy. Leave to rest for about an hour as it is (autolyse).
After the dough has rested, knead one more time, just about a minute.
The dough will now be significantly smoother than just an hour ago and much easier to handle.
In a jar, add the water to the raisins and leave to soak overnight.
Of course, you can always soak the raisins in rum or something like Cointreau, but then that would be very... modern.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl. Pick one side of the dough, pull it up towards you and fold over, as if folding a towel. Turn the bowl around 90° and repeat with all four sides of the dough.
After the folds, the dough should already be very smooth and strong.
Cover and leave the dough to rest for another 30 minutes. After the rest, repeat the folds and cover tightly. Leave to proof overnight in a cool spot, even the refrigerator.
On the day of baking, melt the remaining butter and leave to cool a little.
Take the dough out of the bowl and roll out into a rectangle about 40 by 60cm.
Do not knead the dough. Just take it as it is and press it down until you can use your rolling pin.
Transfer the rolled dough onto a clean tea towel, this will make it easier to roll it up later.
I always forget this step, and could bite myself for doing so.
Brush the dough with the butter, using all of it. Leave a strip a few fingers wide at one of the small sides unbuttered. Brush the unbuttered section of the dough lightly with water.
Drain the raisins well, eventually even dabbing them with a paper towel. Put the raisins onto the buttered dough and distribute evenly.
Beginning with the side opposite the 'watered' section, start to roll up the dough, using the tea-towel as a handle. Put onto your working surface seam-side down.
Cut the rolled-up dough into slices about two fingers thick. Usually, that makes me come up with 16 snails.
Place each snail onto your working surface and press down until round and half their height. Cover lightly and leave to rest for 1,5 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
They won't rise much now, so don't worry.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
When the dough has risen, transfer onto a baking sheet and brush with the condensed milk. Bake for about 20 minutes until they are nicely golden.
Put onto a rack an leave to cool.
In a small bowl, combine the confectioner's sugar with the lemon juice and the water. Add the water gradually, the glaze should be more like cream-cheese than like cream.
When the snails have cooled down to at least hand-warm, put the glaze into the microwave for a minute (or less if your's is especially powerful). Stir the hot glaze (which is very liquid now) and immediately drizzle over the snails.
The glaze will set almost instantly, so you might want to do this in batches.
The raisin snails are best enjoyed fresh, but freeze and thaw perfectly as well.
P.S.: And once more, this post wil be sent to the YeastSpotting section of Susan's formidable blog Wild Yeast, a home baker's resource I can hardly recommend too much.