Happy St Nicholas Day & Grittibänz

So this is my first blog post and I’m quite excited! I will tell you something about St Nicholas Day and then share a recipe with you…


 

So first to St Nicholas Day. In Western Christian countries it is observed on 6th December (today). You celebrate Saint Nicholas, a Greek Bishop who gave secretly gifts to the poor.

In Switzerland many children put a boot called Nikolaus-Stiefel (Nikolaus boot) outside the front door on the night of 5 December. St. Nicholas fills the boot with gifts and sweets overnight (Mandarins, peanuts, chocolates and ‘Grittibänz’ are the most common), and at the same time checks up on the children to see if they were good, polite and helpful the last year. If they were not, they will have a stick (Rute) in their boots instead.

Sometimes a Nicholas impersonator accompanied by ‘Schmutzli’  (Person who gives the sticks) and a donkey visits the children at school or at another place. First the children have to repeat some rhymes and then the ‘Samichlous’ (Swiss German Name for St Nicholas) asks them if they have been good last year. Afterwards he hands out presents on the basis of their behaviour.


Now to the recipe for ‘Grittibänz’. It is a popular pastry to celebrate 6th of December and just delicious!

for 2 – 4 ‘Grittibänz’

  • 500g light spelt flour
  • 1 sachet of dry active yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g softened butter
  • 275 ml milk
  • raisins
  • 1 egg yolk

Stir flour, salt and dry yeast in a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into cubes and add it. Pour the milk into the bowl and stir around until it is thick enough to knead with your hands. Knead until the dough has formed into a round smooth ball. Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until double in size.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two. Then divide it into 2 or 4 equal pieces and form ‘Grittibänz’. An instruction Video you find here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWDNSGOAxhg Decorate them with the raisins. ( You can be very creative!)

  

Place the formed ‘Grittibänz’, well spaced apart, on  a baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 180-200°C.

Brush the ‘Grittibänz’ with the egg yolk. Bake them until golden brown on top, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool slightly. Enjoy.

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