To celebrate Reformation Day in a kind of sweet way, I baked these lovely treats and called them Yeast Luther Roses. Reformation Day always falls on October 31st, and, this year, was pronounced a public holiday in all of Germany to mark the 500th anniversary of the posting of Martin Luther's 95 "theses". Public holiday meant no school, no office, shops closed and lots of rememberance events. And some peace and quiet - perfect time to bake if you ask me.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther published his 95 theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. Luther’s famous posting of his theses on the door of the Wittenberg castle church were the prelude to the Reformation, one of the central events in European history. The Reformation encouraged the development of an image of humanity that was based on a new Christian concept of freedom. Therefore the formation of autonomy and the question of conscience for each individual person gained center stage.
The Reformation crucially influenced enlightenment and basic human rights, just like modern democracy. Luther’s translation of the Bible into German was essential for the growth of a uniform written German language and opened a door to education for a vast part of population that had had no access to it before. There is hardly any sphere of life that wasn’t touched by the Reformation.
The Luther Rose (or Seal) is one of the best known symbols of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. It dates back to the reformer and can still be found today in the coat of arms of numerous towns. Martin Luther used the symbol named after him to mark his letters and writings. To this end he got a rose cut in wood as a cylindrical image and printed it under his writings to identify them as original printouts and prevent them from being copied.
Yeast Luther Roses with Raisins & Cherry Jam
(yield: makes eight buns)
Ingredients for the Yeast Dough
- 500 g strong flour (strong flour has a higher gluten content than regular plain/all purpose flour and is ideal for making yeast dough. Around here we call it "Type 505")
- 30g (1 ounce) fresh yeast OR you can use 15g (1/2 ounce) active dry yeast or 7g (1/4 ounce) instant yeast instead (adjust the preparation accordingly if you use instant yeast)
- 180 ml lukewarm milk (I use 3.5%)
- 80 grams superfine (caster) sugar
- 60 grams unsalted butter (melted)
- 1 egg (L), free-range or organic
- 1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla sugar (OR 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
- 1 tsp. grated lemon zest (organic)
- one pinch fine sea salt
- 50 grams raisins (I like to "plump up" my raisins before I start baking by soaking them in hot black tea for a good 30 minutes, then drain them before using (discard the tea and do not add )
Ingredients for the Glaze
- 1 egg yolk (L), free-range or organic
- 1 tbsp milk, room temperature (I use 3.5%)
- cherry jam (preferably homemade) OR use jam or jelly of your choice
Special Equipment needed
- 2 baking sheets
- 2 sheets of baking parchment
- soft brush
Preparation of the Yeast Dough
- Put the flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center of the flour.
- To a small bowl, add the fresh yeast (crumbled) and a bit of the sugar to the warm milk, then stir well to dissolve, pour the yeast mixture into the well, cover with some of the flour.
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave the starter for about 10 to 15 minutes (until you see bubbles).
- After 15 minutes add the remaining sugar, butter, egg, vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract), lemon zest, salt and (drained) raisins to the flour mixture. Mix all the ingredients together (using the dough hook) and knead until the dough comes together.
- Butter a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl.
- Cover the bowl and leave to rise in a warm spot for about 60 minutes or until it has doubled in volume.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface.
- Divide the dough into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a ball shape, then flatten into rounds.
- Make five small diagonal cuts about one-third towards the center of the rounds from each but do not go all the way - you want to get "rose petals", so make sure to leave the middle of the rounds intact.
- Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
- Place the pastries onto the prepared baking sheets, place a geneous dollop of jam in the middle of each pastry. Cover loosely with food wrap and leave to rise again for 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk with the milk.
- Brush each pastry with the egg wash.
- Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes until they have a rich golden color
- When done, remove from the oven, and leave to cool for a few minutes on the paper. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
While these lovely pastries are a nice sweet way to celebrate a national public holiday - they are most certainly worth making just because...they are pretty and delicious and fun to make and they come with a nice dollop of jam - all you need to make things even more delightful is to serve some good quality butter with them and a big pot of tea or coffee.