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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.


For the dough

For the face

For the egg wash

To decorate


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 (without fan).
  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

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.

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

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

* 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.

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).

All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a fan-forced oven, reduce the temperature by about 20°C/35°F and possibly also the cooking time, but please consult your manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

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