Zwieback is dead. Long live zwieback!

If you’re a cinnamon toast aficionado, keep reading.

If you don’t love light, crunchy toast slathered with butter and topped with a shower of crunchy sugar and aromatic cinnamon—why ever not? Keep reading, I’ll convince you.

We all know cinnamon toast. Sliced bread, popped in the toaster, buttered, sugared. What I’m talking about here, though, is a different animal. Known by an array of names.

Zwieback. Korpu. Trenary Toast.

As Shakespeare might have said, had he thought to put down his bowl of breakfast cornflakes and pick up a pen, “A toast by any other name would taste as sweet.”

For those of us who remember Nabisco Zwieback Toasts—and our number is legion, I’d presume—you might notice that they’re no longer on the grocery store shelf. Sadly, they’ve gone to that Big Sam’s Club in the Sky, same place you’ll find Turkish Taffy, Burry Fudgetowns, Royal Lunch crackers, and Hostess Choco-Bliss.

Discontinued. Dropped. “No longer available,” as the marketing arm of their various parent companies will tell you.

But—what about the pie whose crust calls for Zwieback crumbs? The perfect coffee go-with?

And what about the baby?

Because that’s who Zwieback Toasts were originally marketed for: teething babies.  It was only after moms started enjoying the leftover crumbs that we adults began enjoying Zwieback, with its faint sweetness, haunting hint of nutmeg and cinnamon, and ethereally light texture.

Gone, all gone. But not forgotten. And now, recreated in a slightly different guise, but with the same delicious flavor and compelling texture.

Finnish Korpu, and Trenary Toast (a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula), are both thin-sliced bread, spread with cinnamon sugar and oven-dried to stay good for months. Rather than mimic Nabisco’s thicker Zwieback (which would take a lonnnnnnnng time to dry out in the oven), I decided to clone these, instead.

The result: Zwieback taste and texture, enhanced with cinnamon-sugar. What could be better?

Aside from banana Turkish Taffy, not much.

If you want to follow along with the recipe as you read, here it is: Zwieback.

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Here’s one of my favorite ready-made ingredients: our Cinnamon-Sugar Plus, a combination of superfine sugar and Vietnamese cinnamon. You can certainly make your own—with our Baker’s Special Sugar and Vietnamese cinnamon. But however you do it, I’m sure you’ll love this blend of lightly crunchy sugar and super-fragrant cinnamon.

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Let’s start with a basic rich yeast dough: King Arthur Flour, sugar, salt, and yeast; milk, eggs, and butter. And a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Knead till smooth. Notice that the dough is slightly sticky—see it clinging to the bottom of the bowl? That’s fine. Never try to make a sticky dough perfectly smooth; all you’re doing is impeding its ability to rise, and encouraging the final loaf to be dry.

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Put it in your favorite rising vessel. As always, mine is this 8-cup measure.

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Let rise. This isn’t an enthusiastic riser, due to the fat and sugar, but it’ll puff up.

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And notice that it’s lost its stickiness. As dough rises, the gluten continues to develop, and the flour continues to absorb moisture, changing a sticky dough into one that’s easily handled.

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Divide the dough in half, and shape it into two 12” logs. Space them on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. A half-sheet pan is just the right size. Cover and let rise for about 90 minutes.

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Again, they won’t double, but will definitely get puffy.

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Place in a 350°F oven.

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Ah! There’s the rise. Bake for about 22 minutes. Just 22 minutes, really? Yup.

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The loaves will get nice and brown, like this. Their internal temperature will be about 190°F. Let the loaves cool overnight, uncovered, on a rack. Yes, uncovered. You want them to start drying out.

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Next day, use a ruler to measure out 1/2” slices. Picky, picky… Well, in this case it pays to be picky. If all your slices are pretty much the same thickness, they’ll all dry out at the same rate.

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1/2” seems to be the optimum thickness.

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Here’s one loaf, cut up and ready to dry in the oven.

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At first I thought, ah, just like biscotti. Stand them on end, dry both sides at once.

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Problem: They were so finely balanced on their 1/2” width, any small movement in the kitchen—an adjoining oven door slamming, someone with heavy feet—caused them to tumble like dominoes.

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Plan B: Just lay them down. One loaf will fit one half-sheet pan perfectly. Minus the little end nubs.

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Notice how these are all the same thickness. Nag, nag…

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For the MEREST hint of cinnamon, dust with cinnamon sugar.

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Bake for an hour in a VERY low oven—about 225°F. The bread will start to dry out.

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Remove from the oven, and turn all the pieces over. For cinnamon toasts—remember Korpu and Trenary Toast?—sprinkle each piece with about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar. Bake for another hour, until the toasts are very dry and crisp.

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And here they are—plain, and cinnamon.

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See all the holes? That’s what gives this toast its ethereally light, crunchy texture. Minus the cute kid on the box, I think we’ve got this clone nailed…

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Trenary Home Bakery, Trenary, MI: Cinnamon Trenary Toast, 32¢/ounce

Nabisco Zwieback Toast, 6-ounce package — formerly 60¢/ounce, but since it’s no longer made: priceless!

Bake at home: Zwieback, 8¢/ounce

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Jocusan

    Brand still makes Zweiback…I just had a slice..its a lot better than the home made stuff.
    One can buy it wherever German foods are sold, on the web and a lot of times at ALDI

    Reply
  2. Diane Wade

    I never really recognized the Zwieback flavor as being cinnamon and nutmeg! I would love to make this bread but I have never been lucky with yeast breads. However, if I ever do decide to attempt it again (I spent a week throwing out brick after brick!) this will be he recipe I try. With the demise of Zwieback, I was heartbroken because my family cheesecake recipe called for Zwieback crust. Graham crackers just didn’t cut it, until I made it once more with cinnamon graham crackers and added a pinch of cardamom. It tastes so much like the Zweibach crust that I could barely tell the difference. My family didn’t have a clue and I am a hero for saving the family cheesecake recipe!

    Reply
    1. Char

      My grandmother always made turkey stuffing using Zweiback toast. I am now 70 years old & had followed her recipe throughout my adult years.& everyone always raved about it. I was so sad when Nabisco stopped making it, but now I will use your recipe for our Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you so much.

  3. David Spector

    Brandt Zwieback is available from Amazon.com, as are various Garibaldi cookies, which are similar to Sunshine Golden Raisin Biscuits (another tasty treat that is no longer made).

    Many nostalgic candies are easier to find, such as the original NECCO Valentine (Conversation) Hearts, both the large and small sizes, which are no longer distributed by NECCO.

    Reply
  4. Angie

    Zwieback is a German staple and we still make it commercially and it’s available online and in European grocery/specialty stores. The brand is Brandt Zwieback. The Kavli and the cinnamon dry toast are still being made because they sell it in the regular grocery store in these parts; lots of Scandinavians. Zwieback is what my mom gave us when we were sick and couldn’t keep much down. It’s pretty easy on the tummy along with some chamomile tea. This place usually has all of the above, Marina Market if you’re closeby. They’re in Poulsbo, Washington. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Marion

      Now that I have a teething grandson, I have looked for Zwieback, only to find it discontinued from U.S. grocery stores. I too was raised on Zwieback in a German family, given when I had the flu and couldn’t eat. And my Mom served it with chamomile tea also. Some memories remain a part of your soul. Glad to hear there are others who agree.

  5. Sara

    Thank you, again. This was my favorite thing as a kid, and I was crushed when I couldn’t find it for my now 5 year old. I just made a batch for the 8 month old, and it definitely brings me back…he’s a fan too.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Same thing! It’s a yeast bread that is baked, sliced and rebaked. Zwieback tends to be a bit sweeter. Happy gnawing! Laurie@KAF

  6. Steve

    Would there be any issue with omitting the sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon? I’d like to use this as a base for Eggs Benedict (or Hussard if I feel energetic), but I’m thinking that the sweetness and spice might clash with the sauce(s).

    Or do those ingredients provide something necessary to the dough?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Steve, I think it would be fine to omit the spices and most of the sugar, although you may not get quite as much browning without any sugar. Barb@KAF

  7. sue

    Brandt zweiback are close, but need to be toasted for 20 min at 300F. A bit more cinnamon doesn’t hurt. Available at Cost Plus.

    Reply
  8. Winnie

    Bless your heart!! I was sitting here in the Upper Peninsula with my morning tea, munching on Trenary toast when I came across your recipe. (It’s up to .40 an ounce now at Walmart) – I know your blog is a few years old but I’m going to ask anyway – how long do you typically knead the dough? I am very excited about trying this recipe Trenary toast is a family favorite. Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Winnie, Generally you will want to knead dough by hand for 8-10 minutes. If you’re using a stand mixer I would recommend 2-3 minutes on a low speed to mix ingredients and then 3-4 minutes on medium to knead. Remember that this dough will be sticky at the end of the kneading process. Barb@KAF

  9. Marsha

    I use Zwieback for a filling in our almond pastries that we have made for 25 years. Lately I have been baking the zwies with a recipe I found online. Last year, though I did find ONE box at a Big Y in Manchester, CT. They had no more and seemed surprised that I found it on the shelf. the brand was Brandt Zwieback. Rusk. I just saw them online at Amazon and a store in Mass. called Wegmans in case you don’t feel like baking these.

    Reply

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