It hit me this afternoon while I was sitting in front of my computer... Samichlaus had not come by! A big tradition in Switzerland, one that cannot go unnoticed even if you live in Paris. I popped out to buy some ingredients and went to work.
Expat daughter would be so happy to find a taste of "home" for teatime. She still remembers when her school class in Lugano went into the woods looking for San Nicolao. He would be waiting to distribute a Grittibänz, mandarines and some nuts to the good children, the bad children had to work things out with his helper "Schmutzli" who was considerable less understanding. However, after reciting a little poem in honour of Saint Nick they would all walk back to school with a big grin on their face carrying lots of goodies to take home.
Here is a super-easy, fast, yummy recipe for Grittibänz:
500 gr flour
1 tablespoon salt
70 gr sugar
70 gr butter
2 dl milk
25 gr yeast
1 egg for coating
For the decoration: raisins, shelled almonds, candied fruit, possibly coarse granulated sugar.
1.) Cream the yeast with a little sugar in a cup.
2.) 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.
3.) Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Cover and leave to rise to twice the amount in a warm place.
4.) Knead the dough again, use a knife to cut off pieces of dough in the desired size and roll out to an oval shape.
5.) 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.
6.) 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.
7.) 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.