Recipe Weckmänner

Today is St. Martin's Day. As dark cold days are approaching and I think about ways to lighten up the fall mood around here, I make a coordinated effort to move away and brighten, as much as possible, the darker days in our home. 

Here is something I have noticed while raising my children - rediscovering traditions of my own childhood and looking forward to creating memories with our own family. Legend has it, that St. Martin, a roman soldier, met a scantily dressed beggar at the gates of Amiens, asking Martin for  help. The soldier, not having any money or food to give to the beggar on this cold night, parted his cloak in two with a single swipe of his sword, giving one-half to the beggar while keeping the other for himself. It is said that after this night, Martin was baptized and left the army. 

On the days leading up to and on the night of November 11th, you can find children walking in procession through the streets with their handmade lanterns, singing songs of praise and light to St. Martin. They are led by a man on a horse, meeting at a bonfire at a public square or school yard, where the story of St. Martin is retold through a play. While the origin of the lanterns is unclear, they may have come from the bonfire, symbolizing the light it brings in a dark night, as St, Martin brought a flicker of hope to the poor at his time. 

The night singing around the bonfire ends with hot chocolate, mulled wine, and Weckmänner. Growing up receiving and enjoying a Weckmann was always a memorable end to our evening. For e and j's Weckmänner below, I used a Hefezopf recipe {if you're German, click here)} I followed the recipe very loosely, with the main exception that instead of braiding the bread I formed four little men. And I used all purpose flour with great results.



{I encourage you to weigh the ingredients if possible as it yields better results}
500g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla flavoring
1 envelope dry yeast {the German recipe calls for 18g fresh yeast which would be better}
200 ml cold milk
75g sugar 
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
90 g butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice {original recipe calls for lemon zest}


1. Place all ingredients in a kitchen aid type bowl, knead all ingredients on low about 10 minutes, then up the speed and continue kneading for an additional 5 minutes
2. cover the dough and let rest/rise 1 hour
3. divide dough into 4 equal parts, cut your arms and legs using kitchen shears or preferred tool
4. brush the men with egg, add your face and buttons, cover with foil and let rest another hour
5. bake in preheated oven 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. 
6. enjoy while still warm with fresh butter and jam

What about you? Do you have St. Martin's Day traditions?

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