What do people enjoy eating in the pre-Christmas period in Luxembourg? Boxemännchen, or little brioche men. These small man-shaped breads are made of fine brioche and are very popular with both children and adults. They often find their way onto the gift plates for St. Nicholas' day and are one of the traditional signs that Christmas is approaching. Would you like to bake some of these little fellows yourself? We asked author and cook Maischi Tibesart for her recipe, which we are now able to share with you here.
If you are in Luxembourg during the pre-Christmas period, you will find them on display in every bakery: little men made of brioche dough, decorated with sultanas, sweets or a pipe. These are the Boxemännchen, which for many children represent the joy of St Nicholas' day and Christmas, and are an essential part of any gift or breakfast plate.
Traditionally, they are about 10 to 30 cm tall and are glazed, but there are also larger varieties for the whole family, or others covered with chocolate glaze or icing sugar.
If you would like to try this delicacy yourself, we have Maischi Tibesart's original recipe for you here.
- 500g flour
- 20g yeast
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 250ml lukewarm milk
- 10g salt
- 2 eggs
- 100g butter
- Sift the flour into a bowl and make a hollow in the middle. Crumble the yeast into it. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and some lukewarm milk. Mix with some flour to a smooth pre-dough and let it rise while covered for 15 minutes.
- Add the egg, 1 tablespoon of sugar, salt and the rest of the milk. Mix all the ingredients, add the butter and knead well. Cover the dough and leave to rise for 20 minutes.
- Knead well again. Form small men figures on a floured work surface and place them on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Leave to rise for another 20 minutes.
- Brush with the beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven at 180 to 200 degrees C.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- The Boxemännchen can be decorated with icing. Dissolve 1/2 cup of icing sugar in some water and brush the finished pastry with it
From: E Maufel Lëtzebuerg - Mit Maischi unterwegs in der Luxemburger Küche
© Maischi Tibesart / Éditions Guy Binsfeld
Maischi Tibesart's claim is to convey Luxembourg's "very own feeling of home". Her dishes take one back to the roots of Luxembourg cuisine, and also to her own prepared in the hostel "Méchelshaff" in Echternach. Of course, the recipes are very important to her, as are the stories behind them. She talks about both in her cookbook titled E Maufel Lëtzebuerg (A bite of Luxembourg), available in French and German.