Homemade Zwieback Toast

I am making Koliva for my brother's memorial service this weekend.  It's a Greek Orthodox tradition to honor loved ones who have passed away at certain anniversaries. The Koliva calls for special crackers called Zwieback, which are typically a toast used to help teething infants.  I checked at all several stores locally--Whole Foods Market, Babies R Us, Walmart, and Target--but the only options were Arrowroot crackers or cookies.  I checked online as well, but the only options were extremely overpriced when shipping came into play.  I'm not sure why it's unavailable, because there were many good reviews online for Zwieback crackers and how helpful they were for babies.  I tracked down a Zwieback recipe from King Arthur Flour with many good reviews and decided to make my own. I'll be grinding some of this bread up for use in Koliva.

First I combined all the dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl. I did some mixing and kneading by hand and then used my Kitchenaid mixer to knead it some more.

Zwieback dough after rising

I covered the dough and let it rise for 2 hours.  It rose up a lot!

Then I separated the dough into 2 parts and shaped them into loaves that were about a foot long.  The dough was not completely smooth, as you can see in the pictures, so I tried to work it a little bit to smooth it out but it didn't seem to make a difference.

The Zwieback dough, shaped into loaves

I covered the dough and let it rise for another 90 minutes, and they were noticeably bigger.

Loaves after rising for 90 minutes

Then I baked the loaves for 24 minutes, until they were golden brown.  They smelled so sweet!

Zwieback bread after baking

Then I left the loaves out overnight.  Well, I couldn't bring myself to leave them completely uncovered, so I used some parchment paper and layed it over the top.  And I'll admit, I cut a small piece off because I couldn't resist trying it, and it tasted amazing.  The cinnamon and nutmeg make for great bread seasoning!

Zwieback Bread Loaf

The next day, I cut the bread into slices about 1/2 inch thick.  I think my loaves were slightly shorter than 12 inches each, but the recipe says the end result should be 48 slices and I had 34.  I may have cut them slightly thick, too, but that's ok because I really only need 6 ounces total for the Koliva.

Cut into slices

I set them up on a baking tray and baked them at 200 degrees for 1 hour. I then flipped them and baked the bread for another hour.

Zwieback ready for toasting

After the first hour, I flipped the slices and sprinkled a mixture of cinnamon and sugar on top and returned them to the oven.

After first hour of baking, cinnamon sugar added

After another hour, they were toasted to perfection.

Finished Zwieback toast

I tried half of one and it was really good!  The consistency was like a crunchy cookie.  The cinnamon and nutmeg aren't overwhelming, and with all the crispiness I can see how a teething baby would love them
(though I'm guessing you'd want to skip out on the sugar topping).  For the Koliva I will be grinding some up tomorrow.  I'm excited to see how it works out!

Homemade Zwieback Toast Recipe


4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter, softened or cut into pieces
1 large egg
1 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar, for sprinkling (optional)


Combine flour, sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, egg, and milk in a large mixing bowl. Mix and knead to form a smooth, soft, somewhat sticky dough. Cover the dough, and allow it to rise for about 2 hours, until it is very puffy. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 12" log, then place on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and allow logs to rise for about 90 minutes, until they've expanded (though they won't have doubled in bulk). Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake bread for 22 to 24 minutes, until the loaves are a deep, golden brown color. Allow the loaves to sit overnight. The next day, cut the loaves into 1/2" slices. Lay out the slices side by side on two ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake in a preheated 200°F oven for 1 hour. Flip slices and bake for another hour until toasts are dry and crisp. For cinnamon toasts, sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon sugar evenly over the top surface of each toast before the second hour of baking. Remove from the oven, and cool completely. Store at room temperature.
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