December 5, 2014
5th December – ‘Krampus’ day!
Is Austria and a few other Central European countries St. Nicholas [he is celebrated tomorrow] is accompanied by Krampus. He is more or less a bogyman – covered in thick fir, with horns, a birch rod and claws. While St.Nicholas brings presents [usually oranges and peanuts] to good little children – Krampus punishes bad children.
Nowadays this tradition has merged with our ‘Perchten’ tradition. Perchten are intricately manufactured costumes people wear to chase off bad winter spirits. If you happen to visit Austria around the 5th of December – ask if there is a ‘Perchtenlauf’ going on somewhere. The costumes are breathtaking and I love the atmosphere when they run through the streets with giant bells, cracking their whips, performing their fire shows.
Have a look at the book ‘Wilder Mann’ from Charles Fréger – it’s a great collection of European Perchten traditions [impressive and super funny].
Usually on the night of the 5th you put one boot outside your door [please don’t ask me where that tradition comes from] and next morning it will magically [your mum puts it there] be filled with St.Nicholas treats. One of those treats is usually a yeast dough Krampus! The recipe below is for 2 small Krampi. Mine got a bit obese and look rather funny – they are meant to look really mean!
_ melt butter
_ heat milk [lukewarm] and combine with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the yeast [leave for 10 minutes]
_ combine 150g flour with sugar, vanilla sugar, salt and lemon zest
_ add milk-yeast mixture, egg yolk and melted butter
_ knead into a dough
_ add 1 tablespoon flour at a time until you reach a smooth but soft dough
_ form into a ball, cover and keep in a warm spot for 30 minutes
_ deflate dough
_ form into two thick sausages
_ with a scissor make a long cut in the bottom [for the feet] and a short cut in top [for the horns]
_ make two cuts in from the sides [forming the hands] and a tiny cut for the nose
[now for the ‘arts and crafts’ part]
_ place a bunch of birch sticks into one hand, two raisins as eyes and a red paper tong [you can take red marzipan if you like]
_ cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm spot for 30 minutes
_ whisk egg yolk and milk together
_ preheat oven to 180°C
_ glaze dough ‘Krampuse’ with the egg-milk mixture
[pinch in the eyes again if they stand out and squeeze in a neck]
_ bake for about 20 minutes