Tegernsee Christmas Loaf/Tegernseer Ketzapiren

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Baking powder
Start to Finish: 1½-2 hours
Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: One 2 lb./900 g loaf

Marking religious holidays and life events by enhancing everyday bread with rare delicacies goes back a long way in Europe. The tradition survives most clearly in the stollen of Germany, the panettones of Italy, Lithuania’s Kaledu Pyragas (Christmas Bread), the zelten of South Tyrol and in this richly fruited Ketzapiren, which comes from Tegernsee in the Bavarian Alps, not far from the Austrian border.

The recipe first appears in the 15th century Tegernseer Kochbuch and was reproduced on the German website “The Middle Ages Cookbook”. It starts with rye flour enriched with local luxuries like eggs, dried pears and hazelnuts; and becomes truly memorable with the addition of those rarest of medieval commodities, sugar, almonds, cinnamon and ginger, all of which had to find their way across the Alps from their Mediterranean homelands. Now, as then, Ketzapiren is truly a dish fit for a king.

Technically, the loaf comes together more like a cake than a bread, starting with creaming together egg yolks and sugar, beating the egg whites to stiff peaks, and finally sifting and adding the dry ingredients. There is no fermentation or proofing involved: the loaves get mixed, shaped and baked in one seamless process, and during baking, filled my kitchen with the perfume of sugar and spice – which only sharpened my anticipation of the pleasures to come.

The flavors and textures are complex: sweet-tart-chewy dried pears play against the rich-nutty crunch of the almonds and hazelnuts, while the spiciness of the rye and pronounced warmth of the cinnamon and ginger add yet another medley of contrasting flavor notes. In its home territory, Ketzapiren is sliced thick and eaten warm from the oven, or else wrapped and left to season for 3 or 4 days. I’ve eaten it both ways, and I think it’s an outstanding bite, even in these jaded times, that needs nothing more than a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of sweet wine to make a perfect breakfast, snack or dessert.

Final Dough:

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s
Percentage

Egg yolks, 3 large

51

1.80

34.00%

Sugar

125

4.40

83.33%

Almonds, coarsely chopped

50

1.75

33.33%

Hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

50

1.75

33.33%

Dried pears, cut in strips

400

14.10

266.67%

Egg whites, 3 large

100

3.55

66.67%

Salt

3

0.10

2.00%

Whole rye flour

150

5.30

100.00%

Baking powder, 1 tsp.

4

0.15

2.67%

Ground cinnamon, 1 tsp.

3

0.10

2.00%

Ground ginger, 1 tsp.

2

0.05

1.33%

TOTAL FORMULA

938

33.05

625.33%

 

In a metal mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together over hot water until smooth and pale yellow, 3-4 minutes.

 

 

 

Add the chopped nuts and dried pear strips and mix (I use a silicone spatula) until evenly blended.

 

 

 

Add the salt to the egg whites and whisk until they form stiff peaks.

 

 

 

Fold the egg whites into the fruit and nut mixture.

 

 

 

 

Sift the rye flour, baking powder and spices into the fruit and nut mixture.

 

 

 

Hand-mix until evenly blended.

 

 

 

 

Use a plastic dough scraper or spatula to transfer the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Shape it into a loaf, using wet hands, about 10 inches/25 cm long, 4 inches/10 cm wide and 2 inches/5 cm thick.

 

 

Preheat the oven to 330°F/165°C with the baking surface in the middle and bake until the internal temperature is at least 198°F/92°C, 65-70 minutes. Transfer to a rack and serve warm, or wrap in plastic and let rest for 3-4 days.


4 Comments

  • Mary Beth

    December 19, 2016

    Stan, did you dry your own pears or buy them? I found a how-to on oven drying pears and it looks pretty simple. I can’t think offhand of an easy source for these, but they might be more available than I know.
    I intend to put this on my short list. Looks like a great treat.

    Reply
    • Stanley Ginsberg

      December 20, 2016

      I bought them dried. Having said that, drying them seems pretty simple: just halve them lengthwise, remove the seeds/core and put them in the oven or desiccator. I haven’t done it myself, and am curious to know how yours turn out.

      Reply
  • Katja

    January 1, 2017

    We make a German dried fruit and nut bread at Christmas time similar to your Zelten recipe, and our source for dried fruits is Hadley Fruit Orchards. (I’m not affiliated with them, just a long time customer.)

    Reply

Leave a Reply