Mennonite Treasury of Recipes

First published in Steinbach, Manitoba in 1960

(that is 57  years ago)

mennonite treasury

Wherever the Mennonites settled, wheat was harvested, and zwieback was baked; they worked hard and ate…a LOT! The original formula for zwieback is…

1 yeast cake (1 ¼ tsp dry yeast), 1 Cup warm water, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 cups potato water, 2 cups scalded milk, 1 cup shortening (half lard), 3 tbsp salt

Potatato water!?…it’s no wonder the zwieback was so very good! Potato water, and/or potato flour makes bread wonderfully soft with added nutrition and FLAVOR (the thing we all LOVE)!

Then, when the family got bored with just plain ol’ zweiback…variations were added to that zwiebach bureau:

ZUKA TWEBACK (sugar buns): make smaller buns, dip in cream, then roll the tops thickly in sugar, let rise and bake a golden brown.

FRUIT FILLED BUNS: make buns; pull dough apart and insert a quarter peeled apple, or other fruit. Fold dough over fruit, dip in cream then roll in cinnamon and sugar. Let rise and bake.

RESCHKI (toasties): Left-over zweiback are broken apart, and toasted in a low oven. These are very good dunked in coffee!

RUEBEL PLATZ  (crumb place): roll out dough to fit a shallow pan, pushing up the sides. Sprinkle liberally with ruebel (crumbs), made of 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, and enough butter worked in with fingers to make coarse crumbs. Let rise and bake in moderate oven 25 minutes.

(taken from The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes)

You might want to buy this ancient treasury for your cookbook collection!

Sunday was always ‘thee time’ to go visiting because that is when everyone had freshly baked zwieback and other delicousness. Saturday was the day that all chores were done…cleaning the house <spotless>, washing clothes etc. …and baking! My favorite! This was the routine of the entire colony (community), then Sunday afternoon you would either go out for faspa or stay home and serve faspa. FASPA is served between lunch and supper, around 3:00 or 4:00. On week days it was like coffee break but on Sunday ‘faspa’ replaced supper.

So,  when Saturday rolled around out came the CHOCOLATE Angel Food Cake recipe:

Chocolate!!! Angel Food Cake

Sift together three times and set aside:

                Cake flour                                           99

                icing sugar                                           170

                Instant coffee                                   15

                Cocoa powder                                   21

Beat to frothy stage:

                Salt                                                        3

                Egg whites, room temp                 300

(about 10 fresh egg whites)

Add and beat until stiff:

                Cream of tartar                                 8

Gently beat in the sugar:

                Sugar, granulated                            199

  • When sugar is incorporated, gently fold in the sifted flour mixture using as few strokes as possible
  • Rinse a tube pan with cold water, deposit the sponge into the pan.
  • Bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes or until cake springs back when gently pressed.

    (taken from The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes)

    This is cake is very delicious! I hope it works out for you!

    • PS I like serving it with chocolate chantily

Teff: Traditional Uses

If you have never gone for Ethiopian or Eritrean food, I would highly recommend treating yourself to this immensely rich and flavourful combination of spices and textures. The national food of Ethiopia and Eritrea consists of round platter lined with Injera, a sourdough flatbread with a spongy texture, and a variety of stews (meat and veggie) and sometimes salads placed on top. 17554972_1245104535539172_637301226_n

Using one hand, traditionally your right hand, one tears a piece of injera and uses it to scoop the varying stews and salads. Essentially the injera is your plate and eating utensil. It makes for a rather fun dining experience — much more fun to eat with your hands. 🙂

Because of the way Ethiopian food is eaten, the meal is always a very close, lively event. With each person leaning in and using their hands, there’s no choice but to chat, make conversation, and laugh!

I’ve tried many different places that serve Ethiopian food but I’ve never had the opportunity to make it. But with my newfound interest in teff flour, I thought what better time to learn. I knew I could always search online on how to make injera. There’s nothing you can’t find on the internet anymore. But I really wanted to learn from someone who knows how to make injera authentically. So I set out to find somewhere or someone who could teach me.

It just so happens that on 86st and 118 Avenue, Edmonton, there is a small shop that wholesales their injera to local Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants. It’s called Family Injera and Spices owned by an Ethiopian couple, Saadi & Mohammed. I called and set up a meeting so I could learn how they typically make injera.


Every morning around 5 or 6 a.m., 3-4 women start their morning by turning on their round electric stoves, letting them heat up for a few minutes. Large buckets of injera mix are brought out, mixed the night before allowing it to ferment overnight. The mix includes teff, millet, wheat, barley, yeast and water. According to Saadi, depending on the weather here, she adjusts the amount of water and the temperature of water to make the mix more or less viscous. As well, you can see the addition of other flours take away the gluten free element but injera can be made with only teff flour, making it safe for celiacs.

Once the stoves are warmed and ready, the women take about 1.5 cups of mix and pour it in a circle, starting from the outside and working in a clockwise manner. I was told to pour the batter from up high, moving quickly and making sure to fill in any empty spots on the stove. The batter is left to bake for about 1-1.5 minutes, until bubbles appear, and then covered to complete baking. After about another 45 secs – 1 minute, the lid is removed, and injera is slid off the grill to table where it’s left to cool. Very similar to making pancakes or crepes. Now each woman is working 4 stoves at a time. So after 2 rounds of baking, or 8 injera rounds, and once cooled, the injera is packaged and ready to be sold. 17622570_1245100418872917_1400500887_o

So after watching Saadi making a couple, it was my turn to try. The first few, worked out fairly well but I kept running out of batter before completely filling in the circle. After a few more tries, I figured out the speed and motion and they turned out quite well. I mean, I’m not exactly a pro but practice makes perfect right? 🙂


With a package of my own injera that I made and tummy full of chai tea, I went home thankful for the one of a kind experience. Saadi and the women that worked there were awesome teachers and I’m so very happy that I went to learn.

If you’re looking to try Ethiopian food, there are a couple of locations in Edmonton that I would recommend.

Langano Skies – (780) 432-3334

9920 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 1Y9

Blue Nile Restaurant – 780) 428-5139

11019 107 Avenue Northwest, Edmonton, AB T5H 3G2


Teff: What Is It?

In the first part of our course we studied different flour types and if you can recall, one of the varieties we touched on was Teff. While that might have been new information for most, the mention of teff brought up very fond memories for me — and salivating taste buds!


Eragrostis tef, or teff, is a species of lovegrass that is found predominantly in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Because of the grains’ versatility and ability to thrive in very difficult climates, it is used to make a staple bread in their cuisine called injera, a sourdough flatbread. Now I was born in Ethiopia but adopted by Canadians when I was a baby and one of the ways my parents used to keep in touch with my culture was food. It is my favourite food by far, the flavours are so rich and it is usually the go to choice for when my family goes out for supper. Because of this personal connection to teff, I wanted to explore further and learn more about this grain.

Teff is an ancient grain and it’s about the size of a poppy seed. It’s actually the smallest cereal grain in the world and comes in a variety of colours, ranging from white, red to dark brown. According to the Whole Grains Council (a panel of scientific and culinary advisors used to identify products with dietarily significant amounts of whole grains),

“a handful of teff is enough to sow a typical field, and it cooks quickly, using less fuel than          other foods. Teff also thrives in both waterlogged soils and during droughts, making it a dependable staple wherever it’s grown. No matter what the weather, teff crops will likely survive, as they are also relatively free of plant diseases compared to other cereal crops”.

For a quick comparison, just one pound of teff seeds can grow an acre of teff, while 100 pounds or more of wheat grains are needed to grow an acre of wheat.

Despite it’s size, the grains nutritional value cannot be dismissed. Because of it’s compact size, the grain is milled including the entire berry, within it the germ and endosperm where most of its nutrition is found. It is famous for its high fibre, calcium and iron content, significantly surpassing any other grain. In just 1/4 cup (45g) of uncooked teff there’s 24% of your daily fibre, 8% of your daily calcium and 20% of your daily iron levels.

teff labels 001.jpg

Teff is also considered to be a gluten free grain. Due to it’s low glycemic index, teff is a safe grain that can be consumed by celiacs. Or those with a new, ahem, “lifestyle change”. 😉

Now that you’re a bit better acquainted with this ancient grain and all its benefits, my next post will show you the traditional way teff is used in Ethiopian and Eritrean culture.

If you’d like to learn more about this grain here’s a few sources that you can visit to do more research.



Persian Chickpea Cookie نان نخودچی

نخودچی 9


ُُThese wheat-free cookies are great for those with gluten intolerance or allergies. They can be made dairy free by using oil instead of butter. The end result is a fine, extremely soft cookie that melts in the mouth to be washed down with a cup of hot tea.

Makes 30 to 40 cookies





1½ cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons cardamom

¼ teaspoon fine salt

1 cup canola oil or butter

2 teaspoons rosewater

4 cups chickpea flour, or more as needed*

5 tablespoons ground pistachios for garnish






  1. In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cardamom and salt and whisk together well. Set aside.
  1. Combine the oil or butter with the rosewater in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer. Mix well.
  1. Add the sugar mixture to the butter and rosewater mixture and mix together on low until all the ingredients come together, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium high and mix until the mixture is light and creamy, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  1. Add the chickpea flour in three parts, mixing on low until each addition is well combined. The final mixture should be supple but not sticky. Add more chickpea flour as needed to achieve this consistency.
  1. Wrap the finished dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 F.
  1. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about a half-inch thick, and use a small cloverleaf or flower-shaped cutter to cut out the cookies. The cutter should be roughly 1 to 1½ inches wide to yield about 30 to 40 cookies.
  1. Sprinkle the top of each cookie lightly with the ground pistachio.
  1. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cookies are firm and light colored. Do not let the cookies brown.
  1. Allow the cookies to cool completely before moving them to a platter or a container container that can be well sealed. The cookies are extremely crumbly, so take care when moving them. Serve with hot tea. Nan-e nokhodchi will keep up to 1 month in a sealed container.


German Pretzels (Bretzeln)



German soft pretzels, or Brezeln, are a well recognized and popular food item with a long history and an interesting connection to chemistry. Around 610 AD, the pretzel was first made by monks in Northern Italy or Southern France. This was then supposedly used to reward children for reciting their prayers correctly, which corresponds to the shape; the pretzel’s shape represents how people at that time prayed, with arms crossed across their chests, and hands on opposite shoulders. Even the name, pretzel (or Bretzel) appears to be derived from the Latin word for “little arms” (bracellae) or the Italian word for “little rewards” (pretiolas)[1]. However, it is unlikely that these early pretzels were similar in colour or taste to the iconic modern day Bavarian pretzel.

In 1839, Anton Nepomuk Pfanenbrenner accidentally brushed lye, instead of a sugar solution, onto a batch of pretzels. He decided to bake them anyway, and the resultant pretzel had a unique colour and flavour. Crust colour and flavour are results of the Maillard reaction, a reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids, both of which are present in bread in the form of the components of sucrose (fructose and glucose) and gluten. What made Pfanenbrenner’s accident so unique was that, although unknown at the time, basic substances (high pH) significantly decrease the time that it takes for the Maillard reaction to proceed [2] [3]. Since the sodium hydroxide (lye) is in low concentration and is rendered harmless through the baking process, there are no negative effects to consuming prezels dipped in strong bases to increase the rate of the Maillard reaction. (Some other factors known to increase the rate of the Maillard reaction are adding reducing sugars or proteins, or increasing the bake temperature.)

Variations in pretzels include shape, formula, and finishing. There are regional differences in shaping and formulation, for instance, pretzels from Bayern (Bavaria) having much thicker ‘arms’ and any exposure of the white interior is through rips in the crust. The fat content of these pretzels is limited to 3%, compared to anywhere as high as 10% fat content for Schwaebische (Swabian)  pretzels, which also have much thinner arms, and are typically scored along the thicker ‘body’ of the pretzel.


Image 2

On various holidays and events throughout the year, pretzels may be baked with a sweet dough or puff pastry and brushed in a sugar solution, or simply dipped in boiling water instead of a dilute base; or, for Oktoberfest, pretzels many sizes larger than the usual may be baked [4].

To make traditional German pretzels:

And a tutorial on how to shape them: