Dried pears in Austria are called Kletzen. And this is the ingredient which lends its name to one of Austria's oldest “Taste of Holidays”: Kletzenbrot. This juicy fruit bread also contains nuts, raisins and all sorts of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, aniseed and fennel.
Farmers baked Kletzenbrot hundreds of years ago as a nutritious winter food, to make sure they would have a good source of energy through the cold season. The Christmas classic, which is called Zelten in Tyrol, is baked early in the Advent season, because the longer the bread is left to mature, the juicer it will be.
Recipe for 4-5 loaves:
Ingredients for the filling:
- 16 oz. dried pears (Kletzen)
- 16 oz. raisins
- 16 oz. whole hazelnuts
- ½ ounce candied orange peel
- 1 heaped tsp. cinnamon, ground
- 1 heaped tsp. cloves, ground
- 2 packs of vanilla sugar (0.32 oz.)
- grated zest of an organic lemon
- ½ cup rum
- 1 pinch aniseed
- 1 pinch fennel
- 1 large handful raw cane sugar
Ingredients for the dough and crust:
- 2.2 lb. rye flour
- 2.2. lb. wheat flour
- 2 cubes yeast (2.9 oz.)
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1 tbsp. oil
- lukewarm water
On the first day, simmer the pears until soft, leave to cool and chop finely with a mezzaluna knife. Combine all of the filling ingredients and leave to soak overnight. If necessary, add a small amount of the cooking water from the pears to the filling.
The next day, prepare the bread dough. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add small quantities of lukewarm water and knead vigorously until a smooth and firm dough forms. Then weigh the fruit for the filling and divide into four or five equal portions. Knead each portion of fruit into 10.6 oz. dough and shape into a loaf. This should create four or five loaves. Roll the remaining dough out thinly, cut into as many pieces as there are fruit breads and wrap the loaves with the dough to make the crust. Leave the loaves to rise for a further 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 356 °Fahrenheit. Brush the loaves with oil and prick the dough with a fork. Place a bowl of water into the oven and bake the Kletzenbrote for one hour. Bake simple bread loaves with any leftover dough.
Photo: Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism/Höbaus