Last year around this time I heard my Mom mention the word “Hutzelbrot”, that she was going to make it and that is was one of my Oma’s favorite Christmas goodies. Of course, I was intrigued. I remember how surprised Oma was, she practically squealed with glee to receive it. However, after I found out Hutzelbrot is essentially a bread jam-packed with dried fruit and nuts I was less than thrilled. Images of dense cake with brightly coloured cubes of fruit in it passed through my mind, you know the ones right? Gag.
Let me be up front here, this German Fruit and Nut Spelt Bread is NOTHING like that. But I didn’t know that until I made it and nibbled it.
This year, I knew that I wanted to at least make it for Oma but when I bit into a slice it was heaven. It literally felt like I was tasting Germany. My eyes closed, I couldn’t help from making those mmmm sounds and I chewed slower so I could savour every moment. The sweet of the fruit, the crunch of the nuts and the delicate gingerbread flavour was so perfect. The genes in my blood whooped with joy!
That joy I felt spread right across my Oma’s face when I presented her with a loaf. She shared with me that when she was young her mother (my Great-Oma Sophie… my namesake) would make Hutzelbrot at Christmastime and after they came back from skiing they would all enjoy a slice with some mulled wine. Makes me smile just thinking about it.
This German Fruit and Nut Bread seems to be one of kind as I wasn’t able to find anything similar online. The ones I found had far more dough, far less fruit and nuts and used yeast. So from my Great-Oma, to my Oma, to my Mom, to me I share this precious recipe with you all.
German Fruit and Nut Spelt Bread (Swabian Hutzelbrot)
- 1 pound dried pears or apples chopped
- 1 pound dried and pitted prunes chopped
- 375 grams dried figs chopped
- 235 grams dark raisins
- 3 cups water at room temperature
- 2.5 cups organic, all-purpose spelt flour also called white spelt flour
- 8 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp golden rum
- 5 drops almond extract
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup hazelnuts chopped
- 1 cup candied citrus peel
- 1/4 cup cold butter
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tbsp milk
In a large bowl, add the pears, prunes, figs, raisins and water. Weigh the fruit down in the bowl by placing a pot on top. Let soak overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Make the egg wash by whisking the eggs yolks and milk together in a small bowl. Place in the fridge until needed.
Add fruit and any remaining liquid to a large pot. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Drain fruit, leaving the liquid in the pot. Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil again. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, sieve together the spelt flour and baking powder. Pour onto a pastry mat or clean countertop. Add the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and ginger and blend together with your hands. Make a small well in the middle and add the rum, almond and vanilla extract, and 5 tsp of the liquid from the boiled fruit into the well. Mix together into a dough.
Flatten the dough and pour the chopped fruit, hazelnuts, candied citrus peel and cold butter (cut into small pieces) on top. Flour your hands to keep the dough from sticking to them. Mix and fold together until everything is evenly distributed. Using a large knife, divide the dough into four equal loaves. Press each portion of dough together to form a loaf shape and place on the parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining three loaves. Baste each generously with the egg wash.
Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and baste generously again with the egg wash. Bake for another 20 minutes or until nicely browned on top.
Note: If you have a crazy oven like mine, place another baking sheet underneath on the lower rack to deflect heat and prevent the bottom of the hutzelbrot from burning.