A recent discussion about aniseed in the Global English Classroom’s chatroom gave Martine the idea to write about a local speciality – Bredele. Martine is a retired X-Ray camera operator who worked at the hospital in Wissembourg, here in France.
When it is December, it is traditional to bake bredele during the advent season. Advent are the four weeks before Christmas. Where we live, it gets very cold.
When I was a child, I saw my mother bake bredele, then we baked together with my family and now, I bake for myself and my friends to uphold the tradition.
Bredele are little cookies / biscuits baked during this period. There are many different types with many different ingredients. Each bredele has a different shape, stars, squares, circles and so on. Tradition dictates that certain ingredients are used for certain shapes. For example, Anis is only added to a round bredele.
Bredele originally came from Germany. During many wars, the Alsace (North Eastern France) was occupied either by Germany or France. My mother went to school and learnt everything in German and after the war, she finished the same school in the French system. The culture of the Alsace is a mixture of France and Germany. For this reason, we have the bredele here and they are unknown in other regions of France.
Baking with my mother.
It was winter, it was cold. The wood burner was alight in the kitchen. After school, I helped my mother to bake bredele. She prepared the dough (flour, butter, sugar) and then added all the spices and other ingredients.
It was my responsibility to cut the shapes with a cutter. However, the best part was to “clean the bowl.”
The bredele were baked in the oven for a few minutes and when we took them out of the oven, I could not wait to try one.
Now, speaking and writing about the subject, I remember the tasks and the smells of bredele baking in my childhood.