Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Every year the local bakeries in the German part of Switzerland make Grittibänz to be eaten on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) . They are made from a very lightly sweetened brioche dough and taste delicious. Usually they are pretty simple but some of the finer bakeries can make some that are much too pretty to eat.
He originally came from the German-speaking central plain, the Basel and Neuchatel area. “Gritti” refers to the figure’s legs being apart and Bänz is the short form for Benedikt. There is some dispute about how far he dates back, but he has definitely been known since the 16th century. The widely held view is that the figure represents Santa Claus in a very simplified form.

A Basel recipe for Grittibänz
500 g flour
1 tablespoon salt
70 g sugar
70 g butter
2 dl milk
1 egg
25 g yeast
1 egg for coating
For the decoration: raisins, shelled almonds, candied fruit, possibly coarse granulated sugar.

Cream the yeast with a little sugar in a cup. Place the flour in a bowl and mix it with salt, sugar, slightly warmed butter, lukewarm milk, the egg and the yeast to a dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Cover and leave to rise to twice the amount in a warm place. Knead the dough again, use a knife to cut off pieces of dough in the desired size and roll out to an oval shape. Mark the head by pressing the dough together slightly and turn the head to the back to make the neck. Cut out the arms and legs with scissors and place them in the required position. Decorate the figures with raisins, shelled almonds and candied fruit and trim the hat with remnants of dough. Leave to rise and put in a cold place for 20 to 30 minutes. Before baking, brush with egg and possibly sprinkle with coarse granulated sugar. In a preheated oven, bake for 20 to 30 minutes at medium temperature.


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