Easter Peppernut Buns

Although these is not what I typically think of when thinking of peppernuts, recipes like this one were brought by German Mennonites who immigrated from Russia  to the U.S. in the 1870s. Having read several of Norma Jost Voth's books on Russian Mennonites cookery, I was also aware that peppernuts were not just confined to Christmas. Mrs. Voth relates stories of eating peppernuts and drinking fresh squeezed lemonade during the summer. And, then I discovered that with a little frosting and some sprinkles, you could turn the yeast peppernuts into Easter buns.
I used a recipe from Mrs. Voth (“Peppernuts, Plain and Fancy," 1978, pp. 67 & 69) and just added sprinkles.

Easter Peppernut Buns    Makes about 60 buns
2 tablespoon dry active yeast
½ cup warm water (about 110-115° F.)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 cups warm milk (about 110-115° F.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon white pepper
7 to 8 cups unbleached or bread flour

1.  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and 2 tablespoons sugar; let proof until bubbly.

2.  Cream shortening ¾ cup sugar and molasses.

3.  Beat in eggs.

4.  Add warm milk, spices, proofed yeast and half the flour; beat 5 minutes with electric mixer.

5.  Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to create a smooth dough that leaves side of bowl.

6.  Turn out onto floured board (or add dough hook to electric mixer) and knead until smooth and elastic (5 to 10 minutes), adding more flour if dough becomes sticky. (Avoid too much flour so you will not have dry dough!)

7.  Place in a greased bowl and turn dough to cover all surfaces.

8.  Cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour). Note: To test for double in size . . . press the tips of two fingers lightly and quickly ½” into the dough; if the dent stays, it is double.

9.  Punch dough down and let rise again. (The long rising time yields a fluffy bun.)

10. Turn onto floured board and knead lightly.
11. Pinch or cut off 2” pieces of dough (1 ½ oz. each), making balls between palms of hands.

12. Place close together on greased (or sprayed) baking sheet(s) so they rise high; spray tops of rolls lightly with pan spray.

13. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size (up to an hour).

14. Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Another indication of doneness: remove a roll and tap the bottom — it should have a hollow sound.

15. Cool slightly on rack and then frost with  powdered sugar icing and decorate with sprinkles.

Powdered Sugar Icing: Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon milk, 1 tablespoon softened butter, ½  teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring of choice. Adjust amounts until desired consistency is achieved,     
The buns are ready and the table is set.

Recipe without photos . . .
Easter Peppernut Buns    Makes about 60 buns
2 tablespoon dry active yeast
½ cup warm water (about 110-115° F.)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 cups warm milk (about 110-115° F.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon white pepper
7 to 8 cups unbleached or bread flour

1.  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and 2 tablespoons sugar; let proof until bubbly.
2.  Cream shortening ¾ cup sugar and molasses.
3.  Beat in eggs.
4.  Add warm milk, spices, proofed yeast and half the flour; beat 5 minutes with electric mixer.
5.  Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to create a smooth dough that leaves side of bowl. 
6.  Turn out onto floured board (or add dough hook to electric mixer) and knead until smooth and elastic (5 to 10 minutes), adding more flour if dough becomes sticky. (Avoid too much flour so you will not have dry dough!)
7.  Place in a greased bowl and turn dough to cover all surfaces.
8.  Cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour). Note: To test for double in size . . . press the tips of two fingers lightly and quickly ½” into the dough; if the dent stays, it is double.
9.  Punch dough down and let rise again. (The long rising time yields a fluffy bun.)
10. Turn onto floured board and knead lightly. 
11. Pinch or cut off 2” pieces of dough (1 ½ oz. each), making balls between palms of hands. 
12. Place close together on greased (or sprayed) baking sheet(s) so they rise high; spray tops of rolls lightly with pan spray.
13. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size (up to an hour).
14. Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Another indication of doneness: remove a roll and tap the bottom — it should have a hollow sound.
15. Cool slightly on rack and then frost with  powdered sugar icing and decorate with sprinkles.

Powdered Sugar Icing: Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon milk, 1 tablespoon softened butter, ½  teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring of choice. Adjust amounts until desired consistency is achieved,   

Roasted Chickpea Gyros w/ Tzatzika

A low-fat, low-cholesterol sandwich alternative . . .

Roasted Chickpea Gyros
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 flatbreads
1 cup tzatzika (recipe follows)
1/4 of a red onion
2 lettuce leaves
1 tomato chopped or 5 oe 6 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. To roast the chickpeas: Pat day chickpeas with pair towel, removing any skins that may com off.
  2. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black and cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Spread seasoned chickpeas on a rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed with pan release. I lined mine with foil for easy clean up.
  4. Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes until lightly browned but not hard.
  5. To prepare gyro: Spread one side  flatbread liberally with tzatzika, add chickpeas and vegetables. Fold in half to eat.

Tzatziki 
2 cups plain Greek yogurt 
1 cup seeded cucumber, shredded 
2 tablespoon lemon juice 
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth or coffee filter for 30 minutes to 3 hours to remove excess moisture. Or, skip this step if you're in a hurry.
  2. Sprinkle salt onto shredded cucumber, then lay out on paper towel to draw out moisture.
  3. Mix together yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, and lemon.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Recipes without photos . . .
Roasted Chickpea Gyros
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 flatbreads (such as pita or naan)
1 cup tzatzika
1/4 of a red onion
2 lettuce leaves
1 tomato chopped or 5 oe 6 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. To roast the chickpeas: Pat day chickpeas with pair towel, removing any skins that may com off.
  2. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black and cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Spread seasoned chickpeas on a rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed with pan release. I lined mine with foil for easy clean up.
  4. Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes until lightly browned but not hard.
  5. To prepare gyro: Spread one side  flatbread liberally with tzatzika, add chickpeas and vegetables. Fold in half to eat.
Roasted Chickpea Gyros
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 flatbreads (such as pita or naan)
1 cup tzatzika
1/4 of a red onion
2 lettuce leaves
1 tomato chopped or 5 oe 6 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. To roast the chickpeas: Pat day chickpeas with pair towel, removing any skins that may com off.
  2. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black and cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Spread seasoned chickpeas on a rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed with pan release. I lined mine with foil for easy clean up.
  4. Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes until lightly browned but not hard.
  5. To prepare gyro: Spread one side  flatbread liberally with tzatzika, add chickpeas and vegetables. Fold in half to eat.
Tzatziki 
2 cups plain Greek yogurt 
1 cup seeded cucumber, shredded 
2 tablespoon lemon juice 
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth or coffee filter for 30 minutes to 3 hours to remove excess moisture. Or, skip this step if you're in a hurry.
  2. Sprinkle salt onto shredded cucumber, then lay out on paper towel to draw out moisture.
  3. Mix together yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, and lemon.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.