A quintessential childhood food. This is a copycat recipe of the traditional Zwieback Toast that we grew up on, gave to our own kids, and may even be giving to our grandkids now. My daughter has an allergy to cow's milk, so I substitute the milk for half water and half coconut milk and it works out perfectly!! Note: It takes two days to make these cookies. The first day, you make a raised loaf (just like you do when making yeast bread). The baked loaf sits to cool and set during the night. The next day, the loaf is cut into slices and put in the oven to dry. A lot more work than buying them off the store shelf, but your toddler will love you for it -- I promise!! Time to make DOES NOT include kneading time and raising time - just the time it takes to mix the ingredients together and baking time. This recipe is from kingarthurflour.com.
- Stir together 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, the yeast and 2 tablespoons lukewarm milk in a small bowl; let the mixture foam and bubble.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining milk and sugar and the butter, just until the butter melts.
- Let the mixture cool to 100° to 105°F, or until barely warm.
- Combine the milk mixture and the yeast mixture in a large bowl.
- Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and beat in the egg.
- Mix in the unbleached flour, 1/2 cup at a time.
- When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead in the remaining flour to form a smooth, elastic dough, just slightly on the slack side; this should take 5 to 10 minutes. Note: This dough is also easily prepared using your bread machine's dough cycle, or with the aid of an electric mixer (knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes).
- Lightly grease a large bowl, place the dough inside, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise until it's doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Punch the dough down, knead it briefly on a lightly floured work surface to remove large air bubbles, and divide it in half. Roll the pieces with your hands to form two 12-inch long cylindrical loaves.
- If the dough resists rolling, let it rest, covered, for several minutes; when you return, you should find the gluten relaxed and the task much easier.
- Place the loaves on a well-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between them.
- Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let them rise until they've almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven until it's golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaves reads 190°F.
- Cool overnight, uncovered, on a wire rack.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 200°F With a serrated knife, cut the loaves diagonally into slices about 1/2-inch thick.
- Place the slices, close together, on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets and bake them until they're completely dry, about 1 hour.
- Increase the oven temperature to 300°F and bake the slices until they're lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes, turning them halfway through the baking time to check their progress and prevent over-browning. Cool on wire racks.
- When thoroughly cooled, these will keep for many weeks in an airtight container.
- Note: For a sweeter zwieback, we melted 4 tablespoons of butter with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and brushed the mixture onto one side of the cut slices before baking them, which took 10 to 15 minutes longer because of the extra moisture.