Monday 3 December 2012

Bake yourself a man - A German sweet bread recipe

Last weekend my friend, Astrid, held her annual Christmas baking session. We made many varieties of cookie while drinking Prosecco and mulled wine, including all these ones, but today I want to tell you about beautiful Miriam's little men. This is yet another German Christmas tradition, and this particular recipe has been passed down through friendships and generations. As both myself and Miriam are fresh out of relationships the dough making was kind of like therapy. At one point I even found myself shaking my dough and telling it to grow up. And within 45min, it did!
First, you break up the fresh yeast in the lukewarm milk. Apparently, finding fresh yeast is not easy in the UK, our one came from Planet Organic. You combine the flour with the sugar and salt, and break the softened butter into this, working it into the mixture with your fingers. Once that's completely combined, start adding the milk (with the yeast thoroughly stirred in), and creating the dough. You need to really work it at this stage. Even when the dough is ready, the work continues for at least another ten minutes: "Beat it up" I was told, while it's creator went out for a cigarette. Finally, you cover the dough with a wet towel and place somewhere warm, to grow. After about 45min-1hour, separate it into equal chunks and make whatever takes your fancy. Traditionally it's men, but we also made women, snowmen, stars and children, the rest we plaited. If you are sticking to the traditional concept, make the head first and the body needs to be made out of just one chunk. Then stick the head on and bake for about 45min on a medium heat. The result is something like fresh, melt-in-your-mouth brioche, delicious with the lychee tea we drank at Astrid's house, and coffee the next morning, at my house. Next time, I may try adding the almonds too, though I think I'll leave the raisins out as they are prone to burning and shrivelling. No one needs that


1kg flour
40gr fresh yeast
125g sugar
1 tblsp salt
500ml lukewarm milk
100gr butter
(150g almonds or raisins, optional)

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