Easter bread is a symbol of breaking the Lenten fast on Easter morning. There are many types of Easter bread, rich, yeast doughs baked with eggs, raisins, and sugar. Every city seems to have its specialty but they are very similar to each other, white flour, citronat, raisins, blanched almonds, and lemon or vanilla.
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The most common Easter bread is filled with raisins, nuts, and lemon and sprinkled with "Hagelzucker" or "Perlzuker" (small, hard sugar aggregates which resemble frozen hail). Try this recipe which uses low-protein flour such as pastry flour (or flour sold in the Southern US) to make it cake-like, and filled with lemon peel, currants, and almonds.
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A Poschweck 404 is an Easter bread from Aachen and the surrounding area, which has been baked since the Middle Ages. In addition to the usual ingredients, butter and Kandis or sugar cubes are kneaded into the dough before baking. The Poschweck was not always something the bakers in the city enjoyed baking. They were forced by the city leaders to bake this bread and give it away to their customers for free. They tried to stop this giveaway several times in the 1750s, 1795 and 1846. These strikes by the bakers led to riots from the city inhabitants and each time, the city forced the bakers to continue baking the "Freibrot." Finally, in 1888, the bakers were allowed to stop giving away the bread, which is now sold locally.
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Attendorf in North Rhine-Westphalia was a member of the Hanseatic League in the Middle Ages. In the week before Easter a special "Mischbrot," bread made from wheat and rye flours and flavored with caraway, is baked. It is a long loaf with slits at either end to make what resembles fish fins, the fish being a Christian symbol. These loaves are brought to the church on Holy Saturday afternoon to be blessed by the priest. After the "Semmelsegnen", the whole town participates in four, large Easter fires on hills around the town.
04 of 07
Christian teaching in the Middle Ages had to rely on pictures and symbols, as the population was largely illiterate. "Gebildbrot" or "Sinngebäck" or "Bildgebäck" were used before Christian times and are thought to be used in cults to symbolize raw-meat and animal offerings. This idea was taken over by Christian proselytizers to help the pagans adapt to the new religion. Bread pictures show vows, promises, conjurings, and offerings, as well as meaningful symbols of holidays and festivals.
The most prominent "Gebildbrotes" for Easter are the pretzel - to show Christ's shackles, the cross - such as on hot cross buns and sweet Easter bread, Easter bunnies out of bread dough or chocolate, the egg, the lamb and the Trinity (bread in three parts or with a three-pointed star - see Osterpinze) as well as suns and stars.
Gebildbrot can be sweet or savory and is eaten fresh or made to be saved as a knick-knack.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Baked for Palm Sunday, the last Sunday of Lent, this large pretzel is made from a sweet, yeast dough. Instead of braiding it, the dough is formed into a long rope, thicker in the middle, formed into a pretzel and then the thick part is snipped or shaped into a row of points. This is to symbolize the crown of thorns that Christ wore when being crucified.
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