Each season has its own scent. In the spring the colourful meadow flowers enchant us, the summer smells of hay, the autumn of ripe apples and pears and Advent has is very own special aroma – a cinnamon, clove, punch, biscuit, baked apple, incense, pine needle mixture. What’s really amazing about the number of components – it smells just great and if we allow it, this aromatic combination puts us in the mood for Christmas.
At home during Advent we’re busy baking. Just like my Grandma back then and my Mum has continued the tradition with great passion. And although I’m not a keen baker – I love it when the old electric baking oven is heated up and the whole house is filled with the scent of fresh fruit bread.
“Kletzen“ and “Zibeben“
“Kletzen“ are dried pears. Pears used to be dried out to preserve them. In addition to fruit bread, dried pears are also added to pear schnaps or liqueur.
“Zibeben“ are dried grapes straight from the vine with pips. In Southern Germany and parts of Austria the “Zibebe“ is a common, old-fashioned word for raisins.
Grandma’s recipe for fruit bread
Ingredients (for 1 1/2 to 2 kg of bread):
¼ kg dried pears
½ kg dried plums
¼ kg figs
¼ kg raisins
150 kg hazelnuts
100 kg candid orange peel
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon or ground cloves
1 teaspoon star anise
a pinch of nutmeg
½ kg wheat bread flour
½ kg rye flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1-2 teaspoons bread seasoning
½ cube of yeast
650 ml lukewarm water
The evening before:
The dried pears are cooked the evening before and the dried plums and figs cut up. Mix the dried pears, figs, dried plums, raisons and candid orange peel with the whole hazelnuts., add the spices and drizzle with a large shot of rum, schnaps and orange juice. Overnight the fruits develop a very special aroma.
On baking day:
The next day prepare the bread dough, knead well and leave to rise for approx. 1 hour. Then mix ¾ of the dough with the fruit mixture and leave to rise for a further hour. Afterwards roll out the remaining bread dough and fill with the bread dough-fruit mixture and form a “loaf”.
Brush with egg and bake in the oven at 200 °C. After approx. 5 minutes turn the oven down to 170 °C and bake for another hour.
“Kletzen” fruit bread can only be found in Advent. It is served with lots of butter at breakfast and with coffee.
Photo credits: Elisabeth Hartl