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.

img_6706.JPG

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.

img_6632.JPG

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.

img_6633.JPG

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.

img_6634.JPG

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

img_6648.JPG

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

img_6593.JPG

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.

img_6655.JPG

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.

img_6656.JPG

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

img_6657.JPG

Place in a 350°F oven.

img_6662.JPG

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

img_6603.JPG

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.

img_6614.JPG

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.

img_6611.JPG

1/2” seems to be the optimum thickness.

img_6701.JPG

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

img_6620.JPG

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

img_6626.JPG

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.

img_6630.JPG

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

img_6697.JPG

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

img_6702.JPG

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

img_6703.JPG

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

img_6707.JPG

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.

img_6742.JPG 

And here they are—plain, and cinnamon.

img_6747.JPG

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. TJF

    Well, this is my second try at making this recipe…I NEED the Zweibach for an old family cheesecake recipe. Last year, I tried this recipe for the first time, and other than the toasts coming out a bit too ‘ruck hard’, perhaps from over drying, they worked great and the cheesecake crust was 90% just like the original. This yea,r I tried it again, and I must say was disappointed, so I need some pointers. First off, I could not get the dough to rise much at all, leading to a much denser bread than I remember…then, and related, because it was much denser, the slices never fully dried, leaving the middles slightly spongy still, rendering the middles not usable for the crust. So, my question is, how do I get this to rise adequately? I tried not to kneed too much, and after mixing the dough, formed a loose ball, and left it in the mixing bowl covered, but not completely air tight. I knew I was in trouble when the dough only rose maybe 10-20% tops. then, after forming the loaves, covered with a dish towel, and the same 10% or so. I am assuming if it rises properly, the drying issue would take care of itself. Any thoughts?
    Thanks for posting this recipe, and I am committed to getting tit right, because too many family members love the cheesecake! 🙂

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi there,
      Typically if the dough isn’t rising, it’s either a yeast issue or a dry dough issue. Test your yeast to make sure it is nice and active and bubbly. If it isn’t nice and strong, we’d say it’s time to replace it.

      If the yeast is working just fine, make sure your dough is not too dry. Dry dough will prevent nice air bubbles from forming and lifting the dough.

      Hope this helps. ~ MJ

  2. Vickie

    Thanks for this post. I tried this for my eight month old son. The result? He loved it! And so did my other kids. I blogged about it on my blog “fivelittlefrenches.com” 🙂

    Reply
  3. Carol Ann Burden

    I absolutely love the flavour of these biscuits, the same as the Nabisco “Toast Bickies” I used to love as a child. As an adult in Canada, I used to make runs to the States to squirrel away as many boxes as I could find and was gutted when they discontinued production.
    I have a problem though, my 1/2 inch slices are as hard as a rock now that they are dried. Could this be that the dough was not sticky enough at the beginning or could I have dried them for too long? I will break my teeth so must start again … help, please!!

    It sounds like they were dried out a bit too long. Definitely keep an eye on them as they are drying and make sure that they don’t become too hard.-Jon

    Reply
  4. Edie Patterson

    I printed this recipe out way too long ago-finally made the zwieback over Christmas as a present for our daughter. She grew up on Zweiback-it was our go-to snack for traveling and any time we needed a tummy settler. This recipe nailed it! Thank you from all of us!

    Edie, so glad to hear you all enjoyed this “venerable” snack – it’s nice to renew old friendships, isn’t it? 🙂 PJH

    Reply
  5. oh thank you!

    As one of the babies whose teething included zweiback and later cheesecake discoveries included zweiback, I thank you from the bottomof my heart! Plenty of tasty cheesecakes out there but it just isn’t like Mom’s if the crust isn’t zweiback. Yay! Can’t wait to try your solution.

    Glad we could help with your cheesecake – it was a shame when all the zwieback manufacturers quit offering it, huh? PJH

    Reply
  6. maryasheville

    Is there any reason you can’t make a savory zwieback (maybe it would be called a rusk then)? I’m thinking roasted garlic paste, sage, thyme, maybe a little cayenne, etc. I think this recipe without the cinnamon and with a bit less sugar might work (unless less sugar would affect the texture).
    It sounds like a creative plan to me, and yes, reducing the sugar a little would be fine. ~Amy

    Reply
  7. PatriciaSeasons

    Thank you, thank you.
    I needed zweiback for crumbs for a cheese cake and not only couldn’t I find it in this very well equipped store, I couldn’t even find anyone who knew what it was.Tweny years ago that would not have happened. I used biscotti. OK, but not exactly what I wanted in flavor.

    I think you’ll find the flavor of these mimics the flavor of Nabisco’s pretty well, Patricia. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  8. Martha Gardner

    Thank you for this! I can hardly wait to make the recipe for Zwieback cinnamon toast. I buy the Jacobsen’s toast here in Florida, it’s made in Plymouth, MN, but I have been wanting my own recipe. I remember being able to buy Zwieback growing up in Minnesota years ago, seemed it was a local bread company, I wanna say Zinmaster, and yes in the paper wrapping? I’ve been skimming down through the posts and didn’t notice anyone mention this – but when I was little (40 years ago), my mom made me “milk toast” in the morning with Zwieback. She’d butter and sugar the toasts, lay them in a bowl and then pour hot milk over it. It was wonderful and I still do that once in awhile, but no one I know has ever heard of it! Comfort food! Sounds like a great way to start the day! It’s on my list to try, thanks! Tara@KAF

    Reply
    1. Kate W

      Oh, thank goodness, I thought I was the only one who used Zwieback for breakfast with butter and sugar and hot milk! We ate it often, and I assume my parents had it in their suburban Chicago youths. I’ve been trying to hook my daughter on it but what I can buy in the store needs much more butter and sugar to make it good than I remember using.

  9. Kimberly

    Hello

    I just made these Zwieback loaves today and they smell fabulous! However, my loaves spread out, kind of flattish, in the second rise and during baking instead of tall and tight like your beautiful photos. Could you diagnose my problem? I have not sliced them yet, but I must say it is difficult to wait until tomorrow morning when I plan to slice and toast. Now that I think about it, I may have let them go a little long, by maybe an hour, in the second rise. I have 2 teething babies and it’s tough to keep anything but them on a real schedule, hoping the zwieback will improve my quality of life! Looks like I may have to try again soon as I love these tutorials on you blog, wish I had more time to sit and learn. Thanks for your help,

    Kimberly, I’m thinking perhaps your liquid/flour ratio was a touch towards the liquid side. Or, if you weren’t keeping an eye on them during that second rise (understandable!), they may have risen and fallen. At any rate, I’m betting those babies will still enjoy “gumming” them… And don’t worry, you’ll have time to sit and learn. In about 6 years. Maybe. But don’t wish your life away – children grow up all too quickly, even if right now it feels like an eternity. 🙂 PJH

    Reply
  10. Mike

    Put them on a cooling rack set inside the sheet pan to dry both sides at once. 🙂

    Indeed – good idea, Mike, thanks! PJH

    Reply

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *