Easter Breads from Germany and Austria

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.

  • 01 of 09
    Easter Bread - Osterbrot from Germany - Recipe for Easter Bread
    Easter Bread - Osterbrot from Germany - Recipe for Easter Bread. J.McGavin

    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.

  • 02 of 09
    Poschweck
    Poschweck. Amel CC by SA 3.0

    A Poschweck 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...MORE 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.

  • 03 of 09
    Felbert+Eickenberg/STOCK4B/Getty Images

    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...MORE four, large Easter fires on hills around the town.

  • 04 of 09
    Flickr/CC 2.0

    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...MORE holidays and festivals.

    The most prominent "Gebildbrote" 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.

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  • 05 of 09
    Osterpinze - Easter Bread from Austria
    Osterpinze - Easter Bread from Austria. J.McGavin

    Only baked before Easter to be blessed on the Saturday before along with sausages, eggs, horseradish and bread, the "Pinze," or "Pinza" is a loaf of finely-pored, yeast bread lightly flavored with anise and just barely sweetened. It was introduced to southern Austria from the Friuli-Venezia region and the word for this bread may come from the Italian word for scissors, which is used to cut the bread into three pieces before baking. This creates a cloverleaf pattern which is...MORE thought to represent the Holy Trinity.

  • 06 of 09
    Swabian Palmbrezel
    Swabian Palmbrezel. Public Domain

    Baked for Palm Sunday, the last Sunday of Lent, this large pretzel is made from a sweet, yeast dough (like this one here). 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.

  • 07 of 09
    Mandelkruste - Almond Crusted Rolls
    Mandelkruste - Almond Crusted Rolls. J.McGavin

    A perfect morning sweet treat, these rolls start with sourdough and have a crunchy topping of egg whites, sugar and almond meal. A little fussy for every day (although they freeze well) you will not miss your mark at Easter brunch with these delicious buns.

  • 08 of 09
    Poppy Seed - Filled Rolls - Mohnkranzerl
    Poppy Seed - Filled Rolls - Mohnkranzerl. J.McGavin

    These poppy-filled rings are very fancy and on Easter, bakers place a hard-boiled egg in the center to form a nest. Actually forming these rolls is easier than you think with these step-by-step instructions (with photos).

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  • 09 of 09
    Easter Bunnies on Display
    Easter Bunnies on Display. J.McGavin

    A perfect way to keep kids busy is to make a yeast dough ahead of time and then let them form and decorate their own rolls. It doesn't really matter what they make, the sensory input is enough to keep them occupied for at least a half an hour. These rolls are also cute if you bake them ahead and serve them at Easter breakfast.