The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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canuck's picture

Traditional Russian Mennonite Buns

These buns aren't just buns, they are a history lesson and a sociology study wrapped into a tasty tasty snack.  This bun recipe has been in my family for a long long time, possibly since the late 19th century.  In any case, my grandmother made them back in Molotschna, my mom makes them and so do I.  These buns are really general purpose buns, but particularly appropriate for Sunday afternoon early supper (Vaspa), or served after funerals, in a church basement, with cheese and coffee.  What makes them a bit different than what we usually see on the Fresh Loaf is that they contain a lot of fat, in this case lard, and they are shaped with a sort of "extrusion" technique.  

The lard content is an honest byproduct of the heritage of the buns. Mennonites (and of course lots of other folks) were in the past  a primarily agrarian people, and raising pigs was a big part of farm life.  Butchering and rendering produced lard, which was an important and primary source of fat.  Lard was used in day-to-day baking, long before the advent of "shortening" and other manufactured fats.  Lard has gotten a bad name in the recent past, but is now making a bit of a comeback because its healthier than previously proclaimed (by the margarine/shortening cabal).    In any case, these buns contain a fair bit of lard, in an honest, farmyardish sort of way.

The buns also contain a fair bit of sugar, which speeds the rising.  I appreciate that sugar and fast rising is anathema to some, but really its a practical way of making a buns much quicker, which is an important consideration when cooking on a busy farm or household. Besides, the buns taste great. 

The mystery ingredient is vinegar.  I really have no idea why there is vinegar in the recipe, but there is and I use it. Anyone care to hazard a guess?

The buns are shaped by extruding them between your thumb and forefinger and then being pinched off.  I haven't seen the extrusion shaping technique described (I haven't looked hard either), my Mom taught me how to do this and it works pretty well.  The pictures below and the description will hopefully inspire you to try it out. 

Here's the recipe


 1 cup Lard Try to get a non-hydrogentated lard, not all lards are equal. 

4 cups hot water.

Lard and Water

The hot water softens the lard.


2 teaspoons Salt

1/2 cup Sugar

1 tablespoon Vinegar

4 Cups Flour

Stir vigourously until you get a nice sponge going. Because of the hot water used in stage one, the sponge will be warm.  If its hot, then let it cool down a bit before the next step.

Buns Sponge


1 Tablespoon instant yeast (this may be the "non-traditional" part of the recipe, but it works well)

Gradually add in:

About 4 more cups of flour

At this stage you should have a fairly moist rough dough. you may have to add more flour if its too sticky. Go by what feels right, that's my Oma's way of baking.

Buns Rough Dough


Turn out on a well floured surface and start kneading, adding flour as required, about 15 minutes.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes. (There is a lot of yeast and sugar in this dough, so it doesn't take long)

The Shaping Technique

Here's the interesting part, this shaping technique takes a bit of practice, but once you get the idea you can shape buns fairly quickly.

To shape the buns, tear or cut out a section of the dough and grab with your left hand.

Make an open circle with your left thumb and forefinger, then push the dough through circle with your right hand, from underneath.

dough extruding 1

 The dough should be stretched through. 

dough extruding 2

Now pinch off the bulging dough ball with your left hand thumb and forefinger, and place the resulting ball of dough on a baking sheet.


Cover and let the buns rise until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes, perhaps a bit longer. 

They should look very light and not spring back when depressed.

buns tray

Bake in a 400F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until nice and brown on top. 

 buns finished

Mmmm, these are good buns.  Slather on the butter and clover honey from the canadian praries, and it's just about the best thing you've ever had.

Bake on!



Kuret's picture

This is what I pulled out of my oven today, a good 2kg of dough worth. First a small batch of light rye rolls made somewhat according to the instructions for making sourdough italian bread that was posted here earlier by Dmsnyder i think. The formula does only call for white flour but as I live in sweden I find that breads should contain at least a small portion of rye!

I made the dough with 20% rye flour wich gives you a dough that handles exactly like a wheat dough but with greater taste and also a somewhat drier feel, due to the high ash content of my whole grain rye flour, I also topped them with a mixture of wheat bran and rolled oats so they resemble the kind of "fake healthy" bread you can buy in stores and bakeries here in sweden.

The other breads were two sunflower ryes as per BBA, made with 30%rye starter and really coarse rye meal for the rye content in the dough. Lightly toasted sunflower seeds make for a lovely taste, can´t wait to open these babies! I have started tt get a bit better at shaping since I studied Marks videos, that technique is far superior to my prevoius attempts. Now I only have to make room for the loaves in my freezer! '

holds99's picture

I'm slowly working my way through the bread section of Michel Suas' terrific book AB&P and found this interesting bread with an interesting history. 

Pain Meunier: (Miller's bread), the loaf has all of the components of wheat (white flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ and cracked wheat) 

The following brief description of this bread, taken from Michel Suas book “Advanced Bread and Pastry”, appears at the beginning of his formula for pain meunier:

“To honor and thank their millers for delivering consistent flour, bakers of old created pain meunier, or Miller’s bread.  The formula was creatively designed to involve all the components of the kernel of wheat in the dough.  As a result, in addition to possessing great flavor, this bread also has exceptional nutritional value."

It's a great bread and fun to make.  I doubled Mr. Suas' "Test" formula and made 4 pounds of dough, divided the dough into three equal part and made three loaves.  I used 2 unlined willow German brotforms and 1 plastic (green) brotform.  The loaf proofed in the green plastic brotform, because of its shape, got a higher rise (photo no. 7, rear loaf) but doesn't have the character or markings that the other two loaves (front two) got from the unlined willow baskets.

I used a K.A. mixer to get the pate fermentee and grain roughly mixed with final dough .  Gave it a 20 minute rest, then did a final mix using the "slap and fold" method (Bertinet) then during bulk fermentation gave the dough 3 stretch and folds at 20 minute intervals.  Let it final proof for another 20 minutes (after the 3 stretch and folds), then divided, shaped and placed it into the brotforms.  It final proofed for 1 hour, then I scored it and into a preheated 450 deg. F. oven with a cup of boiling water into a cast iron skillet for a short blast of stream.  It baked for 30 minutes, turning the loaves midway in the baking cycle.  It's a great tasting bread with great texture (tender with a nutty flavor from the cracked grain) and nice crust. 

Michel Suas' Pain Meunier - Advanced Bread and Pastry

Michel Suas' Pain Meunier - Advanced Bread and Pastry 

holds99's picture

I have had Susan's recipe for these buns/rolls stashed in my "to bake" folder for quite some time.  Anyway, I finally got around to making them and am kicking myself for not making them sooner.  These are great rolls.  Susan puts sesame seed on top but I prefer them without seeds.  You can check her original post for the recipe.  They're easy and  delicious.  I made these rolls 4 oz. each.   

To quote Susan's original post: "The rolls are quite a bit more substantial than the squishy cottony ones that seem, unfortunately, to be standard cookout fare.  With about 40% whole wheat flour, the crust is chewy-tender, the crumb soft but still hearty and flavorful.  And they're not just for burgers; they work for just about any sandwich.  Sized a little smaller, they would also make fine dinner rolls."

Susan, If you're out there, thank you very much for this terrific recipe.

Susan's Hamburger Buns

Susan's Hamburger Buns/Rolls

slothbear's picture

We have a guest coming over tonight, so I went for my standard guest loaf.  1/4 King Arthur WW flour, 2 tablespoons of flax meal.  The six-strand braid is always a challenge for me, but I only had to do it twice today.  After the first time, I realized that some of the strands were too fat, so I cut them down and had enough for a baby challah, also six-strand.


 just after braiding.  I had a little extra left over for the baby sister challah.

 I baked a couple of flax sourdough loaves just before the challah.  And forgot to turn the temperature down.  What's 125 degrees between friends??


The baby challah turned out well.  We'll see how the guest likes Extra Brown Challah.  Yikes, from the other side of the room, it looks like some kind of dark Halloween trick or treat bread:

Bob F's picture
Bob F

aisin Bread: Response to Questions

Bob Finsterwalder

 Because my previous tries at bread making were negative I cut the recipe in half. I first started the yeast per instructions in warm water and let stand about ten minutes until it was foamy. Separately milk and butter were heated in a small sauce pan until the butter was melted. This step was set aside until it cooled. When the milk mixture was just warm the yeast (I am not sue how old the yeast was but probably no more that 7 months) mixture was added along with a tablespoon of sugar. The whole mixture was added to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. The bread flour was added a cup at a time with the raisins and mixed on low speed until the dough pulled away from the sides of the bowl. In all about two cups of the three cups were added. The resulting dough was very sticky and flour was added a little at a time to enable the kneading process. I kneaded the dough for about 3 to 4 minutes (About 1/3 cup less than the recipe amount was used) and placed it, covered, in a lightly oiled bowl. I heated the oven for one minute to "warm" and let the dough rise for one hour.

  I punched the dough down and shaped in a glass 9x5x3 loaf pan  I again warmed the oven for a minute and let it rise for another 45 minutes. I pre-heated the oven to 425 F and baked for 10 minutes then lowered the temperature to 350F for 25 minutes until the loaf sounded "hollow" when thumped. Voila a hard,dry, tough loaf.

 To answer another question the recipe was in volume measure not in mass (weight). All liquid measures were verified; nothing was left out or shorted

  Frankly at this point I don't know if this is just the way home-made bread is or if I am missing something. I'm puzzled how commercial bakers get light, moist loaves. Maybe it better eating through chemistry!

holds99's picture

Caution: Before attempting this exercise be sure you're working with a clean kitchen floor :>)


DerekL's picture

 Sourdough starter bubbling away...

holds99's picture

This is Michel Suas version of N.Y Rye from his book Advanced Bread and Pastry.  It's a great rye bread with great taste and texture.  His formula calls for a pre-fermented dough that is made up the night before you bake, left out at room temp. for an hour, then refrigerated overnight and used with the final dough mix the following morning.  This is not a sourdough bread but still has excellent flavor and texture.  I doubled his test recipe and made 4 lbs of dough rather than 2 lbs.  I mixed the preferment into the water for the final dough with my K.A. to break  the preferment up as much as possible.  Then, added the combined flours (equal parts bread flour and medium rye flour), yeast and salt for the final dough, mixing it into a rough mass, then worked it by hand, slapping and folding for about 5 minutes.  Then at the end of the mixing cycle I gave it an initial stretch and fold, then 2 more, at 20 minute intervals during the first hour of bulk fermentation, which took a total of about 1.5 hours.  At the end of bulk fermentation I divided the dough in half and, without letting any gas out of the loaves, carefully shaped them and put them in my proofing baskets.  Yeah, they're weird looking proofing baskets, but they work great.  Anyway. I then baked the 2 loaves in a 450 deg. F. preheated oven, with a blast of steam (1 cup microwaved, boiling water into a cast iron skillet on the lowest rack in the oven).  They baked for 38 minutes in the middle of the oven, turning them around at mid way in the baking cycle.

Here's Mr. Suas description from AB&P: "Rye flour and caraway seeds are a typical flavor combination found in breads from Eastern Europe.  When people from this area of the world immigrated to New York City, they brought their bread making tradtions along.  Rye bread came to be thought of as being native to New York City, where it is particularly associated with Jewish delicatessens."

Here's my first try at Mr. Suas N.Y. rye bread, which I think is a real winner. 

Michel Suas' New York Rye Bread - Advanced Bread and Pastry

Michel Suas' New York Rye Bread - Advanced Bread and Pastry

Eli's picture

I decided to post pix of my motherdough which is where this all started. It has a very short history at this time but hopefully it will last a few years and I can pass it down and around. Flour and water.




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