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What is a Stutenkerl? Is it the same as a Weckmann?

What is a Stutenkerl? Is it the same as a Weckmann?

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On November 11, children in Germany celebrate St Martin’s Day by parading with Lanterns, and munching on a Stutenkerl, also known as Weckmann or Kiepenkerl. But… What IS a Stutenkerl? What is a Weckmann? Are they the same thing? It turns out, these baked men… like a sweetened yeast dough version of a Gingerbread man… date back to the Middle Ages.

Every time I bake a batch of Stutenkerl freehand, they end up looking like they have been visiting their Omas. And where do the necks go??? No matter, they taste good… and they certainly look happy.

what is a stutenkerl

This year I went all out and BOUGHT a Stutenkerl/Weckmann cutter. The set even came with a clay pipe! Now my guys look a bit… um…. more refined…

what is a weckmann

Learn more about Weckmänner and Stutenkerle, and get a recipe to bake them.

What is a Stutenkerl

In the northern and western part of Germany, “Stuten” is a soft, slightly sweetened, yeast bread. And, a “Kerl” is a guy or a man. So, logically, Stutenkerl is a guy or man made from sweetened yeast dough. Pretty simple. Much like the word “Weck” is another word for roll… Weckmann is used more in the Southern part of Germany. To make it more confusing, this little bread man is also called Hefekerl (yeast man), Klaaskerl (Dutch for Nicholas Man), Stutenmann (bread man), Männele (little man), Boxemännchen (in Luxembourg), Grittibänz and Grättimaa (in Switzerland). And of course, Kiepenkerl (like the traveling Merchant statue in Münster). Proving once again, that Germans are a nation divided by the same language….

To make a long confusing story short… a Stutenkerl is a Bread Man, and in this case, he represents St Martin.


what is a stutenkerl

But why is a Stutenkerl or Weckmann given on St Martin’s Day? Ahhh… this is a story I love. St Martin was a kind and generous man who once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar. And a Stutenkerl or Weckmann, looks like Bishop Martin… and tastes better when shared. So, find someone you enjoy being with, and share a Stutenkerl while celebrating St Martin’s Day.

When the Stutenkerl or Weckmann were first made in the Middle Ages, they held a Bishops Crook. Somewhere along the way, most likely during the Reformation, the crook was flipped around, and it became a little clay pipes. This made the Kerl look less like a Bishop, and more like a regular guy.  (My mom remembers pretending to smoke with the pipes… I’m sure kids today still do!). Unfortunately, the clay pipes are difficult to get here in the United States, but they are available to order from Germany HERE

Stutenkerl Recipe

A Stutenkerl or Weckman is made from a sweetened dough… but it’s not SWEET like American Pastry is sweet. Some kids might prefer to eat their Stutenkerl with butter and jam or marmalade, like you would a Brötchen.
I’ve also made the recipe with more sugar… and my people liked it a lot more.


Order Clay Pipes and Cutters HERE

Unfortunately, you may have to order the clay pipes and Stutenkerl cutter from Germany. I purchased the Cutter with Pipe. It also comes with a recipe (in multiple languages) using Quark. (I haven’t tried that one.)

Birkmann 330283 Tonpfeifen für StutenkerlBirkmann 330283 Tonpfeifen für StutenkerlAMAZON.DEBirkmann 196650 Plätzchen-Ausstechform Stutenkerl, Set mit TonpfeifeBirkmann 196650 Plätzchen-Ausstechform Stutenkerl, Set mit TonpfeifeAMAZON.DE


Large Gingerbread Man Cookie Cutters can work too.

R&M International Gingerbread Boy Cookie Cutter, 8R&M International Gingerbread Boy Cookie Cutter, 8R&M International Gingerbread Boy Cookie Cutter, 8Patisse Cookie Cutter, 6 3/4-Inch, Gingerbread ManPatisse Cookie Cutter, 6 3/4-Inch, Gingerbread ManPatisse Cookie Cutter, 6 3/4-Inch, Gingerbread Man

This is a small clay pipe in the style of the German Weckman Pipes… it is a bit

1700's Style Clay Penny Pipe1700’s Style Clay Penny Pipe1700's Style Clay Penny Pipe


Step by Step Photos for How to Shape a Stutenkerl or Weckmann

Shaping Stutenkerl with a Cutter

what is a stutenkerl

Roll the dough to 1 cm thick. Cut the Stutenkerl like you would a cookie.
Re-roll the scraps. You should get 5 Stutenkerl or Weckmann

what is a stutenkerl

Decorate and add the pipe

what is a weckmann

Bake- notice that these come out much “flatter”

what is a weckmann


A ribbon is a nice touch

 Shaping the Stutenkerl Freehand

Make the Sweetened Yeast Dough… according to the Above Recipe, and let it Rise

Cut the Dough into the Number of Pieces You Desire 
I cut mine into 8 pieces… and made 8 Stutenkerl, about 6-7 inches tall.
(If you want to make special features on your Stutenkerl using dough, save a little aside to use after shaping)

what is a stutenkerl

Shape each piece of Dough into a sort of Rectangle
Pinch in a bit at the “neck”

what is a stutenkerl

Use a Knife to cut Arms on Each Side
Just cut in at an angle…

what is a stutenkerl

Now cut from the Bottom to make Legs

what is a stutenkerl

Spread apart the Arms and Legs
Maybe give them a little bit of shape… I also pinched the top of the “head” to make him wear a hat.

what is a stutenkerl

You can cross the Arms across the Chest
(if you have a pipe, tuck it under the arm)
(If you saved dough to make features, do it now)

what is a stutenkerl

Ready to Rise Again!

what is a stutenkerl

After the Shaped Dough Rises Again… Paint them with Egg Wash
what is a stutenkerl

Now Give Your Stutenkerl some Features!
eyes, mouth… buttons… beard…. up to you.
what is a stutenkerl

what is a stutenkerl

Cool on a Rack


I like to eat mine with butter and Jam

what is a stutenkerl

Have Fun Making and Eating your Stutenkerl!




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