Advent Bread Man (Gritibaenz)

The 6th of December is the day of Santa Claus and the Gritibänz in Switzerland. The Gritibänz, the humble bread man, has delighted children and grown-ups alike at 6th of December for generations. Gritibänzen are made with a dough similar to Zopf, but I add grated lemon zest which adds the special flavour which is so typical for Gritibänzen in my opinion. I’ve added a visual guide for the actual bread man making. It’s a fun activity to do with children, too.


  • 500g plain flour or Zopfmehl (Zopf flour)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsps sugar
  • Grated zest of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cube of fresh yeast (20 grams) or 2 tsps dried instant yeast
  • 60g butter
  • 3dl milk
  • 1 egg
  • hazelnuts, almonds, raisins and decorating sugar (Hagelzucker) or caster sugar for decorating


In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar and lemon zest. Add the yeast (the fresh one crumbled up), and mix again.

Melt the butter in a pan. Then add the milk and heat the butter milk mixture until it’s lukewarm.

Pour the milk butter mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes using a machine.

Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm and let it rise at a warm place for 2 to 2.5 hours.

Then knock the air out and form four bread men and decorate them with nuts and raisins (not the sugar yet), according to this visual guide:


Put them onto a baking tray and let them rise again (45 minutes at room temperature or 15 minutes in the oven at 50 degrees C, with the oven door slightly open using a wooden spoon as a door opener).

8Crack the egg and mix it. Using a brush, apply the eggwash onto the bread men. You can now sprinkle them with sugar if you want to. If you can find it in your country, use coarse sugar. You can find this kind of sugar in any Swiss supermarket under the name Hagelzucker.

Bake at 180 C for 25-30 minutes. The breads should look nicely browned and sound hollow when you knock the base with your finger.


2 thoughts on “Advent Bread Man (Gritibaenz)”

  1. Sylvia Pritchett

    The recipe worked perfectly, even with US flour, which isn’t quite the same as in CH. The Grittibänze tasted just like my Swiss mother used to make. A little taste of my childhood and home.

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