Stutenkerl (vegan) - a German sweetened yeast dough in the shape of a man. Traditionally served around St. Martins Day, and sometimes St. Nicholas Day, in Germany. This veganized version of the traditional German recipe tastes just as delicious and is so fun to make!
💡 The recipe in a nutshell
- Vegan (eggless and dairy free)
- Classic German baking made plant-based
- Fun to make - get creative!
- Fluffy, sweet, and comforting
- Weckmann recipe
🍞 What is a 'Stutenkerl'?
Everyone has nostalgic foods from their childhood. One of them for me is definitely the Stutenkerl! A yeasted bread dough formed and baked into little men that actually dates back to the Middle Ages. These baked men typically carry a small clay pipe and are served on St. Martins Day (November 11th), and sometimes during Christmas time on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th).
"Stuten” meaning ‘sweet leavened dough’, and “Kerl” meaning 'lad' or ‘fellow’’. In some regions the Stutenkerl is referred to as Weckmann or Kiepenkerl. As mentioned, it is a sweetened yeast dough, however it's not SWEET like American Pastry is sweet. The fluffy bread has just a slight undertone of sweetness. If you are a fan of very sweet treats I totally recommend dipping these delicious Stutenkerl vegan into your favorite jam! It's super good!
🇩🇪 The tradition of St. Martins Day
On November 11, children in Germany celebrate St. Martins Day by parading with Lanterns (that they usually made themselves at school) and singing Martin’s songs. The evening often starts or leads to a public square where actors play the story of St. Martin. The parading crowd is usually led by the actor impersonating the Saint, dressed up as a Roman soldier riding on a horse.
At the very end, people gather around a large bonfire (called “Martinsfeuer”) to sing more songs dedicated to St. Martin, munch on sweet pastries like Stutenkerle, and drink German hot chocolate (Kakao) or mulled wine (Glühwein). Arriving at the Martinsfeuer also meant the excitement of getting a paper bag handed full of treats! In my hometown, they would fill the “Martinstüte” with a Stutenkerl, a clementine or apple, and some nuts like walnuts or peanuts. It was one of my favorite parts of the whole night!
With almost any yeasted baked goods: freshly baked tastes best. But if you don't have time, try to bake your Stutenkerl a day before at the most. Let it cool completely after baking. It is best stored at room temperature in a bread box, cake container, or paper bag.
Before snacking, sprinkle lightly with water and put it briefly in the oven. So it crisps up a bit and tastes like freshly baked.
❄️ How to freeze
Freeze completely cooled Stutenkerl in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months. Squeeze out any excess air and label with the date of freezing. Thaw in the fridge overnight, and heat up in the oven briefly.
Stutenkerl (vegan) - German Sweet Yeast Men
- Electric mixer (hand, or stand) with dough hook attachment
- Mixing Bowl
- Rolling Pin
- Baker's Dough Scraper
Sweet yeast dough
- 250 g unbleached all-purpose flour (8.8 oz)
- 40 g cane sugar (1.4 oz)
- ½ package active dry yeast (3.5g)
- a pinch of salt
- 115 ml plant milk eg almond, soy, oar (½ cup)
- 35 g vegan butter (1.2 oz)
- 2 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- for decoration: small raisins or sultanas, and clay pipes (if available in your country)
Vegan egg wash
- ½ teaspoon vegetable oil
- ½ tablespoon plant milk
- ½ tablespoon filtered water
- ½ tablespoon cane sugar
- In a mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, dry yeast and salt.
- Add milk, butter, lemon juice and grated lemon peel to dry ingredients. Mix ingredients with the dough hook attachment on your electric stand, or hand mixer. Allow to mix all the ingredients together on low speed. Increase the mixer speed to 2 and continue to knead the dough for another 10 minutes. You’ll know when your dough is fully kneaded when it's smooth and springs back when you lightly press down on it.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead and form into a nice round ball. Clean and lightly grease the mixing bowl. Cover with a bowl covering or damp cloth, and set aside in a warm non-drafty spot for 15 minutes. (I like to put the bowl into the non-heated oven with the oven light on.)
- Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and set aside.
- Measure out 4 equally sized pieces to make 4 small Stutenkerle, or measure out 2 equally sized pieces to make 2 big Stutenkerle. You can eyeball this, or use a food scale for more accuracy. Shape each piece into a ball. Shape each ball into a long strand of dough by rolling it with your left hand, so that one end is pointed. While you roll with your left press the other end of the dough with the side of your right hand down, shaping a round head. You should end up it a pointy long part (making ⅔ of the dough) and a round ball on top.
- With a rolling pin roll down the pointy long part, shaping a flattened triangle. With a baker's dough scraper slightly cut in the middle of the pointy end of the dough lengthwise for the legs. Then cut the dough straight at left and right upper sides for the arms. Press raisins deeply into the dough to create a face and buttons. If you are using clay pipes add these now as well. I learned to shape them by watching this video of two professional bakers forming Stutenkerle. The video is in German, but I'm sure watching them do it can still be helpful!You can get really creative with shaping your little men: put the arms wherever you'd like or shape hats and scarfs for them - have fun!
- Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth to protect from drying out. Leave about 3 - 5 cm (1-2 inches) space in between the Stutenkerle. Once you shape all balls into little men allow them to rise covered for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare vegan egg wash: mix oil, milk, water and sugar together in a little bowl. Cover and set aside until ready to use. Preheat the oven to 185°C / 365°F.
- After resting time: Remove cloth, and brush the tops with vegan egg wash. Gently press raisins down into the dough again, if needed. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool down completely before serving. The Stutenkerle taste best on the day they're baked. Enjoy!
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