Mantepeirden and Klaaskoeken

St Nicholas Klaaskoeken
Mantepeirden "Man on horse"

Belgian Mantepeirden, "man on a horse", breads were most popular for St. Martin's Day, though they are lovely for St. Nicholas, too. When made as a figure with a miter, they are Klaaskoeken, for Sinterklaas in Belgium. They are unusual as they are a yeast bread cut out with cutters. They may also be made using a template, cutting around it with a knife (patterns below).

These breads have other names in other regions: Klaaspeirden, Mikkemannen, or Buikman in Limburg and Brabant; as Stoeteman, Wekkeman, Weckman, Weggekèl, Sevensman, Piepespringer, Stutenkerl, or Hefekerl, depending on the region in Germany; as Männele in Alsace, France; and as Boxemännchen in Luxembourg.

Any basic sweet roll dough may be used—such as dough to roll out to make cinnamon rolls. The recipe below may be doubled or triples.

St Nicholas Klaaskoeken bread
Vintage Belgian cutter
St Nicholas Klaaskoeken bread
Vintage Belgian cutter
St Nicholas Klaaskoeken bread
Modern Belgian cutter


  • 1 package instant or rapid rise dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • ¼ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • ¾ cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup shortening or softened butter
  • 3-½ to 3-¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon milk for egg wash
  • Pearl sugar for crosses, if desired


St Nicholas breadKlaaskoeken
Männele, French professional cutter
  1. Place water in mixer bowl. Either disolve yeast in water or mix yeast in with dry ingredients, using just the first 2 cups of flour.
  2. Add milk, egg, shortening, 2 cups of flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Mix with flat beater for 3 minutes at level 2.
  4. Change to dough hook and mix at level 2, adding flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.
  5. Knead at level 2 for 5 minutes, adding flour as needed.
  6. Round up in greased bowl, bringing greased side up, cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Punch down and let rise again until almost double, about 30 minutes.
  8. Roll out on floured surface or pastry cloth to 1/2-inch thick.
  9. Cut with cutters or use template to cut around.
  10. Place figures on baking sheet.
  11. Brush tops with egg and milk mixture and let rise until light, about 20 minutes.
  12. Bake in 400° oven 12 minutes or until nicely browned; cool on wire rack.
  13. Makes four 8-9-inch Mantepeirden.

To make a template, print patterns below on heavy paper and cut out.

template pattern
Pattern to make Mantepeirden template PDF
Template pattern
Pattern for Klaaskoeken template PDF

Adapted from Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book, McGraw Hill Book Company, 1961, page 108, and

Dark Rye and Honey Cake: Festival Baking from Belgium, the Heart of the Low Countries by Regula Ysewijn, WeldonOwen, San Rafael, California, 2022.

Purchase this beautiful cookbook with a large section for St. Nicholas from, or

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