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Grittibänz in Switzerland


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5 replies to this topic

#1 SWISS_CHEF

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Posted 10 December 2005 - 03:24 PM

Posted ImageEvery 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.

#2 Susan G

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Posted 10 December 2005 - 06:46 PM

How beautiful he is! Thanks for sharing!
I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

#3 ludja

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 03:36 PM

Thank you for the photo and story, Swiss_Chef, as well as the recipe!

A book on Festival Baking I have that covers Switzerland, Germany and Austria mentions that another possible accoutrement for Grittibaenz (besides the white pipe) is to have him hold a sprig of evergreen. Have you seen this also?

Adam Balic has a nice thread ongoing from a recent trip he took to Graz and Vienna here. He showed baked figurines of the "Grampus" or the counterpart of St. Nicholas who comes on Dec 6th for bad children and leaves them coal and switches rather than candies or nuts in the shoes they leave out before St. Nicholas Day on Dec 6th. Do you also have Grampus or something similar in German Switzerland?

Nice to see you posting!

ludja

Edited by ludja, 12 December 2005 - 03:38 PM.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#4 SWISS_CHEF

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 02:49 PM

Thank you for the photo and story, Swiss_Chef, as well as the recipe!

A book on Festival Baking I have that covers Switzerland, Germany and Austria mentions that another possible accoutrement for Grittibaenz (besides the white pipe) is to have him hold a sprig of evergreen.  Have you seen this also?

Adam Balic has a nice thread ongoing from a recent trip he took to Graz and Vienna here. He showed baked figurines of the "Grampus" or the counterpart of St. Nicholas who comes on Dec 6th for bad children and leaves them coal and switches rather than candies or nuts in the shoes they leave out before St. Nicholas Day on Dec 6th.  Do you also have Grampus or something similar in German Switzerland?

Nice to see you posting!

ludja

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Hi Ludja,
I have not seen any Grittibänz men with sprigs of evergreen around here.
Grampus is called "Schmutzli" here and is seen on Dec. 6th with "Samichlaus". Like the Austrian Grampus, Schmutzli's job is to hand out lumps of coal and sticks to all the naughty children.....unfortunately....Schmutzli and I know each other rather too well!

Happy Holidays,
Ed

#5 Peter B Wolf

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 05:49 PM

Posted ImageEvery 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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Not to invade your quote (from where), but here is the original one:
" “A Chef,
seems to be a divine being,
who… from the depths of his kitchen rules the human race.
One can consider him a minister of heaven,
because his kitchen is a temple and his stoves are the altar”

Desaugiers
Peter

#6 SWISS_CHEF

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 02:15 PM

Not to invade your quote (from where), but here is the original one:
" “A Chef,
seems to be a divine being,
who… from the depths of his kitchen rules the human race.
One can consider him a minister of heaven,
because his kitchen is a temple and his stoves are the altar”                                                                                                  Desaugiers

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Very interesting, I have not heard of this before... my quote is my own creation, from start to finish. I suppose things like this happen from time to time.