What Are Schnecken?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2018
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Schnecken are pastries that have been enjoyed in Germany for many years, and are quite similar to cinnamon rolls and other breakfast pastries, in that they have similar presentations, and some of the same ingredients that these dessert items include. Immigrants have brought Schnecken from their land of origin to other parts of the world, and these days, consumers might see them in bakeries all over the globe. Schnecken are snail shaped — Schnecke is German for snail — round pastries that were originally enjoyed as a snack on weekends.

Cream cheese is the most common filling for Schnecken. Recipes for this pastry are similar in their ingredients to many others for buns or cakes that are around the world. These are also made with yeast so that they can rise.

Flavoring items for this pastry item include vanilla and cinnamon. Other sweeteners may also be added. Some cooks like to ice the tops of Schnecken and similar pastries, and other flavor items may be rolled into the folded dough. Chopped nuts may also be used.


Although some experts in this type of ethnic food specify that this item is distinguished by its creation from single pieces of dough, other cooks still make it by rolling out a single loaf of dough and cutting it into pieces to bake it. Some dessert aficionados point out differences between the classic Schnecken pastry and another German one called a Rugelach, which is a similar food but has some slight alterations.

Some of those who trace the origination of this German pastry attribute it to Jewish food culture. In many cases, German Jews, and other German immigrants, brought their own recipes to other parts of the world, for example, to New York City, where these items may feature prominently in a bakery display case. As part of modern cuisine, this dish is often categorized with other pastries of European extraction, but the difference between Western and Eastern European pastries may be an interesting point to apply to what has become a world-wide snack item.

It’s also interesting to compare this relatively simple cinnamon/sugar and dough creation to other recipes either from the European continent or the British Isles or modern day U.K., such as the hot cross buns familiar in many parts of the world. Another modern version of this type of food is the cinnamon bun or cinnamon roll which has been adopted by large food service companies to offer in food courts and other dining areas.


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