Grittibänz

Fun and delicious Grittibänz, traditional sweet buns which are eaten at Christmas in Switzerland. A great recipe to make with the kids. Follow my delicious Grittibänz recipe with step-by-step photos.

grittibänz on wire rack

Christmas in Switzerland

As soon as the Grittibänz start appearing in the bakeries and supermarkets here in Zurich, my children get very excited because, for them, it is a sign that Christmas is around the corner.

Gingerbread Men are not exactly common here in Switzerland, but these Grittibänz have the same effect on children – they are cute to look at and fun to eat!

grittibänz on wire rack with pearl sugar

What is a Grittibänz?

A Grittibänz is made from a sweetened enriched dough and shaped into a figure, making them essentially a bread version of a Gingerbread Man.

Quite often, the sweetened dough is plain, but sometimes they contain raisins or sultanas, or even chocolate chips (my favourite!).

They are usually decorated with pearl sugar, which I think adds a nice pop of sweetness, but my favourite Grittibänz come armed with a chocolate bar (added once the cooked Grittibänz have cooled).

grittibänz with pearl sugar and sprinkles on wire rack

When to Eat Grittibänz

The Grittibänz is traditionally eaten on St. Nicholas Day, which falls on 6 December every year. In Switzerland, the children receive a bag filled with nuts, chocolates, gingerbread, some fruit for good measure, and usually also a Grittibänz.

To read more about this Swiss tradition, you can read my post about Christmas in Switzerland and the popular Samiclaus Bags.

samichlaus bag with chocolates and nuts
{Read more about the Swiss tradition of gifting Samichlaus Bags.}

Znüni Treat

What I really love about the Grittibänz is that they are great as a snack for kids, and the teachers are pretty forgiving when the kids bring these to school for morning tea.

Grittibänz Recipe

Although it is very easy to buy Grittibänz in the bakeries and supermarkets in the lead-up to Christmas (this year, they started selling Grittibänz as early as October!), they are a fun treat to make at home with the kids.

And because this Grittibänz recipes makes more than you and the family can eat in one day (they are best eaten fresh and the next day), they are great to give as gifts to friends and neighbours.

This Grittibänz recipe uses the same sweetened enriched dough which I use for my Iced Finger Buns.

It is a very easy to dough to make, and the dough is pretty forgiving, which means it is perfect for the kids to prod and poke, and the end result will still look and taste great.

grittibänz on wire rack with white cloth

How to Make Grittibänz

Step 1

Measure the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Lightly mix the ingredients together.

dry ingredients for finger buns in white mixing bowl

Step 2

Slowly add the warm milk (you may not need all of it), and lightly beat everything with the dough hook until it comes together into a large ball of dough. Only add as much milk as you need to bring the ingredients together into a dough.

dough for finger buns in white mixing bowl

Step 3

Slowly incorporate the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until all of the butter has been used.

Then increase the speed to medium and continue kneading with the dough hook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

raw dough for finger buns in white mixing bowl

Step 4

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, and place the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it somewhere warm for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

risen dough for finger buns in white bowl

Step 5

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it back and knead it gently into a smooth ball.

Add the raisins and knead the dough for about 5 minutes to incorporate the raisins.

dough for finger buns with golden raisins

Step 6

The next step is to portion the dough.

You will need 10 small pieces for the head, and 10 large pieces for the body. I recommend using a digital scale so that all of your Grittibänz will be the same size and shape.

Pat the dough into a long log and cut off 10 pieces of dough for the head, weighing 20 grams (0.7 oz) each. Roll each piece into a smooth ball and set aside.

Weigh the remaining dough, and then divide this number into 10. Portion the dough accordingly into 10 pieces for the body.

portions of dough to make grittibänz

Step 7

Take a piece of dough for the body and roll it into a smooth log, measuring approximately 18 cm/7 inches long.

Use a sharp small knife to cut the dough in half at one end, about 5 cm/2 inches long. This part of the dough will form the arms.

At the other end, cut the dough in half about 6 cm/2.5 inches long. This part of the dough will form the legs.

Transfer the dough to a baking tray lined with baking paper.

forming the arms and legs on grittibänz dough

Step 8

Separate the dough at the shorter end and shape them to form the arms of the Grittibänz.

Separate the dough at the longer end and shape them to form the legs of the Grittibänz.

Attach the head to the body of the Grittibänz.

Insert two dried currants or dried blueberries for the eyes, and a small slice of dried apricot for the mouth.

Cover the Grittibänz with a sheet of cling film and leave it somewhere warm for about 20 minutes for it to puff up slightly.

Repeat with the remaining dough to shape all of the Grittibänz. I like to make these in batches of 3 to 4 so that they all have a chance to rise sufficiently before baking.

shaping the grittibänz dough

Step 9

Just before baking, brush the Grittibänz with some egg wash and sprinkle the belly generously with pearl sugar (my kids cover the entire dough – arms, legs and heads – with pearl sugar because it’s their favourite part!).

If the eyes and mouths are starting to look detached, poke them back into the dough to ensure that they remain there during baking.

Bake the Grittibänz for 15-20 minutes, or until they are lightly golden. If they are browning too quickly (check around the 10 minute mark), cover them loosely with foil for the remaining baking time.

Once the Grittibänz have cooked, place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

uncooked grittibänz before going into the oven

More Swiss Recipes

If you are looking for more Swiss recipes, you might also like:

Butterzopf

Cheese Fondue

Raclette

Print

Grittibänz

Fun and delicious Grittibänz, traditional sweet buns which are eaten at Christmas in Switzerland. A great recipe to make with the kids. Follow my delicious Grittibänz recipe with step-by-step photos.

  • Resting Time: 2 hours
  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 10
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Swiss

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 600 g (4 cups) strong white bread flour
  • 110 g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 14 g (4 teaspoons) instant dried yeast (see Kitchen Notes below)
  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) milk, warmed to 37°C (98°F)
  • 60 g (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) sultanas or raisins (or more, to taste)

For the face

  • small handful dried currants, dried blueberries or raisins
  • 12 dried apricots

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk

To decorate

Instructions

To make the dough

  1. Measure the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
  2. Lightly mix the ingredients together using the dough hook.
  3. Slowly pour in the warm milk, and continue mixing until everything comes together into a rough dough.
  4. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once the butter has been fully incorporated into the dough, add the next tablespoon of butter.
  5. Once all of the butter has been added, continue kneading the dough on medium speed for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. The dough is ready when it is soft and smooth, and also slightly elastic in texture when you try to stretch it. If you poke the dough softly, it should bounce back right away.
  7. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl.
  8. Place the dough inside the bowl.
  9. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel.
  10. Leave the dough somewhere warm for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size (see Kitchen Notes below).
  11. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch back the dough to release all of the air.
  12. Gently knead the dough a few times, and then knead in all of the raisins.

To portion the dough

  1. Pat the dough into a long log.
  2. Cut off 10 small pieces of dough for the heads. If you are using kitchen scales, each head should weigh 20 g/0.7 oz.
  3. Roll each piece of small dough into a smooth ball and set aside.
  4. Weigh the remaining piece of dough and then divide this number by 10. This will be the weight of each piece of dough for the body.

To shape the dough

  1. Take a large piece of dough and roll it into a log measuring about 18 cm/7 inches long.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut an incision in the dough at one end measuring 5 cm/2 inches long. This section will form the arms.
  3. Cut an incision in the dough at the other end measuring 6 cm/2.5 inches long. This section will form the legs.
  4. Separate the sections to form the arms and legs.
  5. Attach the heads to the bodies.
  6. Insert some dried currants or similar for the eyes.
  7. Insert some cut dried apricots or similar for the mouths.
  8. Loosely cover the Grittibänz with a sheet of cling film, and place them somewhere warm for about 20 minutes, or until they have puffed up slightly.
  9. Repeat with the remaining dough. I tend to prepare 3-4 Grittibänz at a time, or enough to cover one baking tray.

To bake the Grittibänz

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (428°F).
  2. Make the egg wash by lightly whisking together the egg and milk.
  3. Brush the Grittibänz with some egg wash, taking care around the eyes and mouth.
  4. Sprinkle pearl sugar generously over the body of the Grittibänz.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the Grittibänz are lightly golden. Check the Grittibänz at about 10 minutes, and if they are browning too quickly, cover them with a loose sheet of foil for the rest of the baking time.
  6. The Grittibänz are cooked if an internal thermometer reads 85°C (185°F).
  7. Gently remove the Grittibänz to a wire rack, and leave them to cool completely.

Kitchen Notes

ALTERNATIVES TO PEARL SUGAR
If pearl sugar is not available, you could use sprinkles or mini chocolate chips. My daughter loves to use a mix of pearl sugar and sprinkles.

VARIATIONS
* Instead of raisins, use the same quantity of chocolate chips.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF FLOUR
* For Swiss readers: I use Zopfmehl (or farine pour tresse) when making bread and enriched dough.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF YEAST
* Please note that there is a difference between instant yeast (also called instant dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) and dried yeast (also called active dry yeast). If you are not sure what type of yeast you have, please check the packaging for instructions on how to use the yeast.
* With instant yeast, you can add it directly to the flour mixture without having to activate it first.
* With dried yeast, you will need to activate it first (usually in some warm liquid).
* If you are using fresh yeast, you will need about one block (40 g fresh yeast = 14 g instant dried yeast). Crumble the fresh yeast into the warm milk, and stir to dissolve the yeast.

PROOFING THE DOUGH
Dough needs a warm environment for the yeast to activate and cause the dough to rise. If you don’t have a warm place in your home, try one of the following ideas:
* In the oven with the oven light switched on (works only for some ovens).
* In the oven with a tray of boiling water on the bottom shelf.
* In the oven at a low temperature of about 25-30°C (77-86°F).
* On the open oven door, with the oven turned on at 100°C (212°F).

OVEN TEMPERATURES
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

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