Osterpinzen are a traditional Austrian easter bakery made out of soft, sweetened yeast dough.
Austria is primarily catholic, so there are a lot of traditions around easter! For example, on Easter sunday, this sweet bread, some hard-boiled eggs and a piece of ham or smoked meat are brought to Easter mass, so that the priest can bless them. Every member of the family eats a piece of all three foods later (usually at the Easter brunch after the mass and the egg-hunt!), as it is supposed to pass on the blessing and bring good luck to you.
I baked a second batch yesterday, tweaking the recipe a little and (in my opinion) succeeding much better than last time, so I can pass it on now!
Since I baked more this time, the dough got a lot yeastier, and also softer. The proportions changed a little from the 250g flour recipe I had last time.
Salt, vanilla sugar (about 1 packet or 1-2Tbsp)
Dry white wine (can substitute lemon zest) for taste
1. Warm half of the milk to room temperature in a bowl. Mix in the crumbled yeast and about a tablespoon each of flour and sugar. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes. It will rise up and get frothy as the yeast multiplies.
This pre-dough is called a “Dampfl” in Austrian. I admit I had to look it up, much to the chagrin of my mother when I admitted to her I didn’t even know what a Dampfl was! I guess I fail at Austrian baking traditions.
2. Mix the rest of the milk, a splash of wine or lemon zest, vanilla sugar, the sugar and the butter in a bowl and warm to about 30 degrees Celsius.
3. Divide the eggs into whites and yolks. The whites aren’t used in this recipe. Save some of the yolk for brushing the dough before baking, and put the rest into a mixing bowl together with the flour, the milk-sugar-butter mixture and the risen yeast. Knead everything until the dough gets smooth and firm (if you use a food processor, it should be stringy enough to grab hold of the dough hooks).
4. Roll the dough to a ball, put it back into the bowl and cover it with a cloth. Put into a warm place to rise. When you see the surface starting to crack (about 20-30 minutes in), fold the dough again with your hands and let it rise another 30 minutes. It should grow some more by that time.
5. Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees Celsius. Cut the dough into 3-4 parts and form balls from each one. Place them onto a baking sheet or a greased baking pan and cut the top of each ball three times in a star shape. Place a dyed easter egg in the center and brush the dough with egg yolk:
I should have cut them deeper actually – cutting almost all the way through seems to be the ticket!
5a. Alternatively, divide the dough ball into three parts, roll them out to strings and braid to a wreath to be filled later:
6. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30-40 minutes, until the dough is cooked through (try with a needle).
7. Let cool and enjoy with butter and your favourite marmelade!
PS: I’m submitting this to Bread Baking Day #08, a baking roundup over at Wild Yeast. This month’s theme is Celebrations, so take a look and contribute your own spring celebration bakery!