Another of Germany's Easter traditions, but enjoyed throughout the year these days, is Struwen. The fried yeast pancakes that for generations were served on Karfreitag, Good Friday, in Muensterland, North Rhine-Westphalia and are a Muensterland specialty.
When the Lenten fast was followed, and no meat allowed, the sweet fried yeast pancakes were cooked in rendered animal fat, and this supplied the energy necessary to complete whatever work was to be done. Especially on the region's farms.
Of course during a Fast neither eggs nor raisins should have been added but as usual the rules were often "bent".
Now, although they are enjoyed throughout the year and found in Farmer's Markets and chic Bistro's as well as a favorite Hausmannskost, home cooked meal, on Karfreitag Struwen will appear on the tables of most Muensterland homes.
MÜNSTERLÄNDER STRUWEN RECIPE - for 10
1000 g – 2 lb 2.1/2 oz all purpose flour
400g – 1.3/4 cups lukewarm milk
4 standard eggs, lightly beaten just to break up
150 g – 5.1/3 oz sugar
300 g – 10 oz raisins (Put raisins into bowl and cover with cold water for about 15 minutes, drain and dry well. This ensures that they stay moist and don't harden while cooking)
80 g – just under 3 oz yeast
Pinch of salt
Butter or cooking oil
Tear the yeast into small pieces, place to the lukewarm milk and stir. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the sugar over mixture.
Place flour into a bowl, make a hollow and into this place the yeast/milk mix.
Introduce the flour gradually from the sides into the yeast mass and knead until combined.
Cover bowl with a damp cloth, or plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for an hour while it rises.
Add the raisins, eggs, sugar, salt, mix thoroughly and leave covered for another hour.
(The small amount of salt brings out the flavor as well as controlling the yeast growth, and it is possible to have just one proving time, adding all the remaining ingredients after mixing the yeast into the flour saves an hour but proving twice makes a lighter texture)
From the dough make small flat shapes about 7cm/3 inches in size. Using two large spoons to do this makes shaping and flattening very easy.
Drop into the melted butter or heated cooking oil and fry slowly on both sides for two to three minutes, until no raw dough appears after a small cut is made with a knife and the Struwen are golden brown.
Serve warm. It is a good idea to use two pans for cooking as this way the Struwen do not have to be kept warm for long.
These fried yeast pancakes are a typical "Westfälisches Karfreitagsgericht", together with "Biersuppe" and "Pumpernickel" amongst others, and very filling.
Traditionally served with Sugar, Cinnamon or a prepared mixture of both, of a Fruit Compote, such as apple or plum.
While in restaurants and bistros it is not unusual to find them accompanied by either a Bier or Weinsuppe, beer or wine soup.
Muensterland, famous for its over 100 castles, bicycle culture, and "Münsterländische Gerichte" with roots in rustic country cooking. And no need to save Struwen for a once a year "Good Friday Feast", they can be enjoyed at anytime.
Illustrations Muensterlaendisches Struwen kreisheimatbund-steinfurt.de
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