Earlier this month, in my Halloween post, I told you about St. Martin’s Day, a catholic holiday that is celebrated in parts of Germany on November 11. I also told you that a traditional pastry that is given out to the kids on St. Martin’s Day is a “Weckmann” (a pastry in the form of a gingerbread man, which is made from sweetened yeast dough), sometimes with raisins.
This pastry is popular in the Rhineland area where I am from throughout the holiday season as well, especially also around “St. Nikolas Day” on December 6, and I thought I’d share the recipe for these beautifully soft and fluffy yeast men with you, in case you’d like to try making them yourself. Kids usually enjoy the pastry for its unusual shape.
There are different variations of this pastry. You can omit the raisins and sprinkle the pastry with sliced almonds or pearl sugar instead if you don’t like raisins. Traditionally, the Weckmann also has a clay pipe in his hand, but I didn’t bother ordering any as the Weckmann is just as tasty, if not quite as authentic, without one.
- 500 g (4 cups) flour ( (all-purpose or bread flour))
- 1 pkg dry yeast
- 70 g (1/3 cup) sugar
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- 80 g (1/3 cup) soft butter
- 1 egg
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup raisins (soaked in warm water until soft)
- 1 egg yolk
- In a large bowl, combine flour and yeast; stir well.
- Combine milk and butter in a small bowl; heat (in the microwave) until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted.
- Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly. Add the egg, sugar, and salt and knead thoroughly until smooth and elastic.
- Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1-2 hours (or over night). Drain the water from the raisins and fold them into the dough. (leave a few raisins out for decoration.)
- Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds. Roll each round into a long roll and form a “man” by sectioning off the head and cutting the bottom part with a knife to create the legs and arms. Decorate with extra raisins to add “eyes”, or “buttons” on the torso.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).Place the yeast men on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover loosely with a damp towel. Place them in a warm place and let rise again for 30-45 minutes.
- Brush the yeast men with egg yolk and then bake them in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden.
- Let them cool on a rack. They are best enjoyed still slightly warm with a bit of butter, but will also keep for a couple of days (in a plastic bag).
What are traditional baked goods for the holidays where you live, if any?