Home Celebrating German Culture in America What is a Stutenkerl? Is it the same as a Weckmann?
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. Now, every time I bake a batch of Stutenkerl, 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.

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

what is a stutenkerl

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….

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

Stutenkerl Recipe / Weckmann Recipe

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes

Yield: 8

Stutenkerl Recipe / Weckmann Recipe

Ingredients

    Dough:
  • 1 cup Milk
  • Zest of 1 small Lemon
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar/ divided - some will go in the yeast
  • 4 cup Flour /divided- some will go in the yeast
  • 6 Tablespoons softened Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • Pinch salt
    Decoration:
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • few teaspoons Milk
  • teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Also- Cranberries, Raisins, Chocolate Chips or Nuts to decorate.

Instructions

    Make the Dough:
  • Heat milk until it is lukewarm. If you touch it with your hand, it should feel WARM, but not hot.
  • To the milk add Yeast, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons of Sugar, 2 teaspoons of flour. Stir to combine... set in a draft free, warm place for 10 minutes (I set it in my oven... with no heat)
  • In a stand mixer combine the rest of the flour, the rest of the sugar , butter, vanilla, egg, pinch of salt... turn machine on to mix these ingredients up a bit. When the milk/yeast is bubbly, add it to the flour.
  • Use a paddle to combine the ingredients. It will look like a sticky dough.
  • Knead for 10 minutes. (I use the dough hook on the mixer... but you can do it by hand.)
  • Let the dough rise in an oiled bowl for 1 hour... it will double in size. (I cover mine with plastic wrap, and put it back in the oven ... no heat... )
  • When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface.
  • Divide the dough into pieces... one for each little man. How many? I made 8 with my dough... you can make more (with smaller pieces) or less if you want BIGGER men.
    Shape the Dough:
  • Form each piece into a sort of rectangle.
  • Squeeze in a bit where the neck should be.
  • Cut a diagonal on each side or the torso for arms
  • Cut between the legs.
  • Sort of fix the shape to how you like it.
  • You can point the head for a hat... or stretch the legs to make them longer... or fold the arms on the chest.
  • Let rise for 30 minutes.
    Prepare for Baking:
  • Combine the Egg Yolk with Milk. Mix it up well! You don't want blobby bits. (I add a little sugar to spread the sweetness... it's a kid thing)
  • Paint the dough men with the egg wash using a pastry brush. Don't be sloppy about this part...the egg wash makes it shiny, and empty spots look funny.
  • Now comes the fun part... make eyes and a mouth using raisins or cranberries (or even chocolate chips). Some people (not me) are super talented, can can make lots of cute features like buttons or a beard.
  • I can add eyes and a mouth. My creativity is limited to cutting the cranberries down to size so they don't look over sized.
  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • I put in 2 pans with 4 Men on each onto 2 racks... baked 12 minutes, then switched them around, and baked 12 minutes more.
  • If you make bigger ones, you will have to bake longer ... maybe 30 minutes total?
  • If you are just baking on one sheet or you have a convection oven, you may be able to go a little shorter.
  • Let sit on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes after baking, then move to a cooling rack.

Notes

Stutenkerl are not super sweet, so some kids here in the United States may not be as excited to eat them plain. Go ahead and serve with Jam and butter.

https://germangirlinamerica.com/what-is-a-stutenkerl/

Note-
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. 

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

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
Bake

what is a stutenkerl

Cool on a Rack

what is a stutenkerl

Serve
I like to eat mine with butter and Jam

what is a stutenkerl

Have Fun Making and Eating your Stutenkerl!


 

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