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Munlie making: with a few twists and cuts, you shape these mildly sweet, dancing bread men.

Munlie making

These jolly, dancing little men, made of mildly sweet bread dough, are called "munlies' by the Petsche family of Canyou Lake, California.

Their origin is definitely German, and making munlies is a tradition that's been handed down through generations of the family. But even though there are allusions to munlies in German literature (mannlein, meaning "little man,' is more likely the proper spelling), they're not as well known as other German Christmas customs.

On Christmas Eve, everyone in the Petsche household--children included-- decorates a gaily active munlie for Santa's snack. Next morning, they share what is left with butter, jam, and a glass of milk.


2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (110|)

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 cup honey

2 eggs

3/4 cup (3/8 lb.) butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon anise seed (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

About 6 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Raisins, currants, whole or half nuts

Icing (directions follow), optional

Butter and jam

In a large bowl, combine yeast and 1/2 cup water; let stand about 5 minutes for yeast to soften. Add milk, honey, the 2 eggs, the 3/4 cup butter, lemon peel, anise seed, and salt. Stir until blended.

If mixing by hand, add 4 cups flour and beat until batter is stretchy. Then stir in 2 cups flour until moistened. Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic 5 to 8 minutes; add flour to prevent sticking. Put dough in a buttered bowl and turn dough over so top is lightly buttered. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.

If mixing with a dough hook, add 6 cups flour and slowly mix to moisten. Beat until dough pulls from sides of bowl; add a little flour if necessary. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise in a warm place until about doubled, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down in bowl, then knead on a lightly floured board to expel most of the air.

Measure a well-packed 1/2- or 3/4-cup portion of dough. Roll dough between your hands to make a log about 7 inches long. Lay log on a buttered 10- by 15-inch baking sheet (step 1).

To shape each munlie, start by cutting 3/4-inch notches on opposite sides of the log about 1 1/2 inches from an end (this marks the shoulders). Twist 1 1/2-inch section over 1 full turn to define the head. If desired, pinch and slightly pull the tip to make a pointed cap. To create arms (step 2), make slighty slanting cuts on opposite sides of the log starting about 3 1/2 inches below shoulders and cutting up about 2 3/4 inches (leave about 1/2 to 1 inch across center for chest). For legs, cut from end opposite head, making a slash through middle of the log and up about half of its length.

To animate each little man, pull and twist the arms and legs into active positions, making at least 5 twists in each limb (step 3). Keep the limbs well separated for good definition of activity. Space the prancing munlies about 2 inches apart on the baking pan.

Decorate with raisins or currants for eyes, nuts or raisins for buttons, feet, hands, cap tips--as you like. Press decorations deep into the dough so they won't pop out during baking (step 4).

Loosely cover decorated men with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until they look slightly puffy, about 1/2 hour; if you work slowly, some will be ready to bake before all are shaped. Watch dough carefully: if it overproofs, the bread looks lumpy.

Brush dough evenly all over (including decorations) with mixture of beaten egg and water. Bake in a 325| oven until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on racks until lukewarm or cooler.

If you're baking ahead, let munlies cool completely and package airtight; let stand at room temperature as long as overnight (freeze to store longer, then thaw, wrapped). To rehear, lay men flat on baking sheets and warm them in a 325| oven for about 10 minutes.

If you like, brush or spoon a little icing on the tip of each head to define a cap, on hands to make mittens, and on feet to make shoes; take care not to cover raisins and other decorations. Tie colorful ribbons around the necks of the men.

Serve warm, allowing 1 per person. Eat plain or with butter and jam. Makes 8 or 12 breakfast breads.

Icing. Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 4 teaspoons milk until smoothly blended. Use or keep covered up to 3 hours. Icing should spoon or brush on in an even coat. If it's too thick, add a few drops of milk; if too thin, add a little powdered sugar. Makes about 1/3 cup.

Photo: 1. Shape lump of dough into a 7-inch-long log and place it on a greased baking sheet

Photo: 2. Cut two notches to mark shoulders; twist top for neck and head. Slanting cuts define arms, legs

Photo: 3. Twist limbs at least five turns each for good definition, then shape them to run hop, or dance

Photo: 4. Decorate with raisins for eyes, raisins and nuts for other trim. Push these down to stay in during baking

Photo: Brush powdered-sugar icing onto baked munlie to make cap, other finishing touches; add a bow tie and serve with butter and jam
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipe
Date:Dec 1, 1984
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