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As we move into true, deep winter, it's nice to keep this rich, filling, savory "pie" in the back of your mind. Zweibelkuchen (literally, "onion cake," in German) is an egg- and butter-rich dough filled with sausage, cabbage, onions and mushrooms. In this country, given its pie-like shape and lattice-top crust, we'd consider it a pie rather than a cake. It's a complete light lunch unto itself; or pair it with soup or salad for something a bit more substantial. This recipe makes two thick pies; give one to a neighbor, or freeze it, half-baked, for another meal.
3 1/4 cups (14 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup (6 ounces) warm milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter
1 pound fresh bulk sausage* (about 2 1/4 cups, cooked)
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped (about 1 pound, 3 1/2 cups, chopped)
4 cups white mushrooms, sliced (10 ounces)
1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped (about 6 cups, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) heavy cream or sour cream
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs (3 eggs for the filling, 1 egg for the glaze)
*Use breakfast sausage or, for something a bit spicier, sweet or hot Italian sausage which you've squeezed out of its casing before cooking.
Dough, Manual/Mixer Method: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the dough ingredients, stirring till the dough just starts to leave the sides of the bowl and holds its shape; it'll be soft. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it's smooth and supple. (If you're using a mixer, knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes using the dough hook attachment.) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise for 1 hour, or until it's slightly puffy but not doubled in bulk. Cover the bowl or bucket closely with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or for up to 24 hours. This "retarding" of the rise will improve the flavor of the crust.
Dough, Bread Machine Method: Place the dough ingredients into the pan of your machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Program the machine for manual or dough, and press Start. Take a look at the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, and adjust its consistency with additional milk or flour, as necessary, to produce a smooth, soft dough. Allow the machine to complete its cycle. Remove the bucket from the machine, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours, or up to 24 hours, in order to improve the crust's flavor.
Filling: While the dough rests in the refrigerator, brown and break up the sausage in a large, uncovered skillet. When done, remove the sausage from the skillet and set it aside. Drain off all but a tablespoon of the accumulated fat from the skillet, and add the onions, mushrooms and cabbage. Cover the pan for 8 to 10 minutes to steam the cabbage. Remove the cover and saute the vegetables until lightly browned. Continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage "squeaks" in the pan.
Reduce the heat and add the cream or sour cream and nutmeg; add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until it thickens slightly. Stir in the browned sausage. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the filling cool to lukewarm before assembling the pies.
Assembly: After the dough has rested in the refrigerator, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Divide the dough into three roughly equal pieces. Roll two of the pieces into 13- to 14-inch circles, and fit them into 9-inch pie pans. Trim off excess dough so you've got an even 3/4- to 1-inch border of dough hanging beyond the rim of the pan all the way around. Roll the third piece of dough into a square about 10 x 10 inches in size and about 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips (you should have about twenty 10 x 1/2-inch strips). You'll use these to make two lattice crusts.
Whisk together 3 eggs in a small bowl, and stir them into the lukewarm filling mixture just before spooning the filling equally into the two bottom crusts. Weave a lattice crust over the top of each pie. Fold the bottom crust up over the ends of the lattice and crimp well to seal. Beat the remaining egg until frothy, and brush it generously over the latticework. Let the pies rise for 45 minutes; they'll look just a little puffy.
While the pies rise, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the pies for 50 to 60 minutes, until the dough is a deep brown and the temperature of the filling registers above 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the Zwiebelkuchen from the oven, and allow to briefly cool on a rack before slicing and serving. We think a dollop of sour cream on top is the perfect final touch. Yield: 2 pies.
Nutrition per serving (1 slice, 1/8 pie, 191g): 269 cal, 12g fat, 12g protein, 26g complex carbohydrates, 3g sugar, 3g dietary fiber, 113mg cholesterol, 621mg sodium, 396mg potassium, 88RE vitamin A, 21mg vitamin C, 3mg iron, 59mg calcium, 157mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XIII, No. 2, Winter 2002 issue.