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Catholic Recipe: St. Nicholas Breads


  • 7–8 cups flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup, scant sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Details

  • Yield: 2-4 figures
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: • • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 15+
  • Origin: Germany

These are baked dough figures known in many regions and made for the feast of St. Nicholas. Starting with a ball of dough, first the body is rolled out in a somewhat elongated shape and cut halfway up one side. Make the legs out of this divided part; score marks on the sides for the arms.

The St. Nicholas figures from the Rhineland are somewhat more complicated; often the St. Nicholas is riding on a horse.


Sift the flour into a bowl. Make a depression in the center and sprinkle in the yeast. Warm the milk, pour it in, and dissolve the yeast. Sprinkle a little flour over the yeast-milk mixture and let stand, covered, until small fissures are clearly visible on the surface.

Meanwhile, melt the butter, add the sugar, salt, lemon rind, and whole eggs, and stir to combine.

Add this mixture to the yeast-milk solution and beat to form a light, smooth dough. It must be neither too soft nor too firm and must be easy to shape. Let rise for 15–20 minutes.

The figures are each shaped from a smoothly rounded ball of dough which is first rolled out into a slightly elongated shape. Next the head is shaped. The arms, legs, and hat are attached with egg yolk beaten with a little water. The remaining decorations, such as the beard, nose, eyes, and so forth are shaped or cut out separately and likewise attached with egg yolk.

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Lay the figures on a baking sheet lined with silicone paper and let rise completely (at least 20–25 minutes). Bake on the center shelf of the preheated oven for 20–35 minutes, depending on size.

Recipe Source: Christmas Baking: Traditional Recipes Made Easy by Christian Teubner, Barron's, New York
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