This Christmas doll-bread from Switzerland (a.k.a. Grittibänz, Grittibaenz) takes the shape of little men, women, saints, santas, or other creatures of the baker's choosing. We have been making Grittibanz in my family for years. Flecked with cardamom and orange peel, buttoned by raisins and almonds, it is a delicious, sweet, spicy bread.
2 envelopes dry yeast (2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/4 cups scalded milk
1 cup (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Grated rind of 1 orange; OR 1 teaspoon vanilla; OR 1 1/2 teaspoon mixed powdered spices to taste; OR 1 teaspoon crushed anise: OR 1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom [OR all of the above!]
6 to 7 cups flour
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk for glaze
1 egg white, beaten
Raisins or currants
Sprinkle yeast into LUKEWARM water, add 1 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon flour stir, cover loosely and set aside in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes, or until foamy. If it does not foam your yeast might be stale. Get some fresh yeast and start again.
SCALD milk, add butter and stir over low heat until butter melts. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and salt. COOL to lukewarm. ADD to yeast mixture with eggs, flavoring and HALF the flour. Mix well until free of lumps. Gradually beat in as much remaining flour as necessary to make a dough that is smooth enough to begin to leave the sides of the bowl, but one that is still VERY SOFT AND PLIABLE.
Place dough in a clean bowl, cover loosely with waxed paper and chill in refrigerator 5 to 6 hours, or overnight. Punch dough down the first two or three times it rises.
Punch dough down, knead 2 or 3 minutes and divide into portions large enough to make the size dolls you want. Shape into dolls or faces. Remember that this dough will swell, so make ARMS and LEGS THIN enough. Pat or roll into shapes with your hands. Attach heads, arms, legs, etc., with milk so they will stick.
Place on BUTTERED baking sheets, cover loosely and set to rise in a draft-free corner until not quite doubled in bulk--about 30 minutes.
Brush with hot water and bake in preheated 350 degrees F. oven for 1 hour, or until golden brown and done. Sprinkle with hot water once or twice during baking. Five minutes before end of baking time, brush dolls with egg yolk glaze and continue baking until done. Stick raisins or currant eyes, nose, mouth and buttons on with beaten egg white while dolls are hot.