Recipe: Lemon “Ricotta” Pancakes

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 2713x2971

My oldest son—who doesn’t have food allergies, had previously stopped eating the vegan pancakes I made for his brother. He claimed to no longer like ANY pancakes. Thankfully, he’s changed his mind in the last few weeks. With a new ingredient, I’ve developed a recipe that both my sons really like: Lemon “Ricotta” Pancakes sans dairy, eggs and nuts.

MozzaRisella Vegan Cheese

While I don’t usually share recipes that call for specific brands of food products, I make an exception when I find something really great, especially if it could be helpful to others living with food allergies. My latest discovery here in Switzerland is MozzaRisella—a vegan cheese made from germinated brown rice. I’ve seen it in our small Swiss city at several bio (organic) shops, and I know you can also find it in the UK.

MozzaRisella1 3098x2370

We started buying MozzaRisella to make dairy-free pizza for our son. Compared to the frozen pizza with fake cheese we tried last summer in the US, the homemade pizza with MozzaRisella is so much better. This product even tastes good uncooked and straight from the package. My boys and I were sampling pieces last night when I was making pizza again, and my 3-year old with food allergies kept asking for more.

In addition to pizza, we also tried using MozzaRisella for nachos. I would have never considered this before, but we recently had nachos with mozzarella at our local Swiss-Mexican restaurant. We hadn’t made nachos for years, but during the World Cup, we ate dairy-free nachos with black beans and corn and topped with cilantro and thinly sliced radishes. Not as good as ones made with real cheese, but still an excellent alternative.

The Italian company that makes MozzaRisella also makes CreamyRisella, but I didn’t start buying this other product right away. Then, The Kitchn posted their easy recipe for Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes, and I wondered about using the CreamyRisella as a substitute for the ricotta. It worked from the start, and with a few other modifications, I now have a pancake that even my oldest son will eat. On Sunday, I served them for brunch with fresh raspberries and a side of bacon.

Lemon “Ricotta” Pancakes

Serves 3-4 people


3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with 1 tablespoon flax meal
1 package of CreamyRisella (200 grams)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
zest of 2 lemons
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup soy or rice milk (I’ve been using Alnatura’s Soja Drink-Vanille from Migros)

1. In a large bowl, stir together the lemon juice and the flax meal and set aside for a few minutes.

2. Then, add the next six ingredients to the flax meal mixture and whisk together until smooth: CreamyRisella, oil, sugar, cider vinegar, vanilla sugar and lemon zest.

3. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Next, gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in about 2 batches, alternating with the soy or rice milk. Do not overbeat.

4. Using a measuring cup, pour pancake batter on a medium-high heated skillet. Flip the pancake once air bubbles throughout the pancake begin to burst. Cook about 1-3 minutes on each side, until light golden brown, and serve warm.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 2 2736x2726
Full disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, nor did I receive any compensation. The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own.

What’s your favorite vegan cheese? Have you tried MozzaRisella? I’m curious to hear about other vegan cheeses in Switzerland and beyond. Please leave a comment below or send me an email. Thanks!

Comparing Milk Substitutes: Coop and Migros

When I was a kid, I would drink a large glass of cold milk with every meal. Unfortunately, my son can’t do the same because of his milk allergy. Instead, we give him soy milk fortified with calcium. Thankfully, he loves the stuff. At the same time though, I’m always looking for new brands that have a perfect combination of nutrition, taste and an affordable price.

Alnatura Products 2355x2676.13

So, when Migros sent me a complimentary box of Alnatura’s organic products for my family to try—including several different kinds of milk substitutes—it seemed like a good time to to reevaluate which milk substitute is best for my son. Migros recently started offering Alnatura products via its home-delivery site,, and in selected stores. Here’s what I’ve compiled so far to compare the milk substitutes from two major Swiss supermarkets—Migros and Coop—based on a review of their websites today: July 11, 2014.

Dairy-Free Milk Substitutes: Coop and Migros

Product type Coop Migros

Almond Milk

None listed isola Bio Mandorla Boisson aux amandes Bio, 1 liter
(reg. 4.80 CHF, on sale for 3.90 CHF)
Oat Milk Coop Naturaplan Bio Boisson à l’avoine, 1 liter
(Not available online; price not listed)
Alnatura Drink avoine (hafer) et calcium or natur, 1 liter
(2.30 CHF)
Quinoa Milk Naturaplan Bio Max Havelaar Boisson de quinoa & riz
liter (3.50 CHF)quinoa_drinkCOOP 2351x3137.28
None listed
Rice Milk-Calcium None listed Alnatura Drink riz calcium, 1 liter (2.30 CHF)

Isola Bio, Boisson au riz Nature – avec calcium
, 1 liter
(reg. 3.50 CHF, on sale for 2.80 CHF)
Rice Milk-Nature Naturaplan Bio Boisson au riz nature, 1 liter (3.30 CHF)Boisson au riz_coop aha Boisson au riz, 5 dl
(1.65 CHF)
reisdrinkMIGROS 2168x2892.56
Isola Bio, Lait végétal à base de riz nature
, 1 liter
(reg. 3.40 CHF, on sale for 2.70 CHF)
Rice Milk with Almond Coop Naturaplan Bio Boisson au riz amandes, 1 liter (3.40 CHF)riceMilkALMONDCOOP 2255x3137.22 Bio Boisson au riz-Amandes, 1 liter
(2.80 CHF)

Isola Bio Boisson à base de riz-Amande, 1 liter
(reg. 3.80 CHF, on sale for 2.90 CHF)
Spelt Milk None listed Alnatura Drink à l’épeautre (dinkel) natur and calcium,
1 liter (2.90 CHF)dinkel_drinkMIGROS 2081x3233.24
Soy Milk-Calcium Sojasun Soya drink avec calcium, 1 liter (3.45 CHF)CoopSoyMilk_calcium 2214x3264.59 Alnatura Drink soja et calcium, 1 liter (1.60 CHF) 

Soja Line aha – Drink Boisson au soja avec du calcium 100% végétal, 1 liter (1.90 CHF)soymilk

Soy Milk-Nature Naturaplan Bio Drink au soja nature, 1 liter (1.90 CHF)CoopSoyMilknaturaplan
Sojasun Soya drink nature, 1 liter (2.20 CHF)SoyMilk_NaturCoop 2341x3096.02
Alnatura Drink au soja nature, 1 liter (1.60 CHF)SoyMilkNatur_Migros 2026x3233.10
Soja Line aha – Drink Boisson Bio nature-100% végétal
, 1 liter (1.90 CHF) 

Soyana Soy Drink, Boisson à base de fèves de soya bio Original,
1 liter (3.20 CHF)

Soy Milk-Vanille None listed Alnatura Drink soja vanille, 1 liter (1.90 CHF)soymilkVANILLE 1802x3218.28

Please note: I focused on the more typical milk substitutes intended as beverages (e.g., those beverages marked with “Drink”). Also, I have not included lactose-free milk substitutes that include other forms of dairy or chocolate-flavored milk substitutes. Finally, the actual selection of these products can vary at each individual store.

Full disclosure: I received a complimentary box of Alnatura products from Migros, as shown in the photo above. However, I did not receive any compensation from Coop or Migros, and any opinions expressed in this or any of my other posts are solely my own.

We have a grocery order arriving at our home this evening, so we’ll be doing some taste tests this weekend. What are your favorite milk substitutes in Switzerland? Bon week-end, everyone!

Is there a Shortage of Adrenaline Auto-Injectors in Switzerland?

EpiPen and Trainer 2456x2496

No, there isn’t a shortage for the moment. However, the supply of adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) in Switzerland has been limited recently, due to defects found last fall in one of the two available brands here. According to an official from Swissmedic—the Swiss federal agency responsible for authorizing and supervising therapeutic products—the situation may be more accurately described as “an undersupply,” and it’s improving.

The issue of a potential shortage first came to my attention in January 2014, when I picked up a new prescription for EpiPens because our son’s were expiring. I brought them home from the pharmacy to discover they would expire in May 2014—only a 5-month shelf-life. We had to request a new prescription from our son’s allergist again this spring. I wanted to know more about why this occurred, especially since a typical shelf-life for EpiPens is about 13-14-months—a fact I learned this week via email from a representative of MEDA, the company that distributes this brand in Europe. Also, I’ve been reading about similar situations in the United States via the food allergy blog, Oh Mah Deehness!, and in the United Kingdom via Anaphylaxis Campaign.

Please note: In the United States, from my experience, AAIs are more commonly referred to as epinephrine auto-injectors.

What are AAIs?

We always carry two AAIs with us because our son has severe food allergies. If he had a life-threatening allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, we would need to inject him with a dose (or more) of adrenaline. Some symptoms of anaphylaxis can include skin reactions and difficulty breathing. While we’ve thankfully never had to use them, we need to make sure we’re carrying AAIs that haven’t expired.

For more detailed information about AAIs, check out “About Food Allergies: Epinephrine Auto-injectors” via Food Allergy Research & Education’s website.

What brands of AAIs are available in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, people who need AAIs have two options: EpiPen or Jext (see the table note below). Anapen has also been licensed in Switzerland, but hasn’t been available since a product recall in 2012, and it’s not known when it will be available again, based on an email response I received from aha! Swiss Allergy Centre. Here’s a quick comparison of the two available AAIs in Switzerland:

Characteristics EpiPen Jext*
Types of AAI EpiPen Jr and EpiPen Jext 150 and Jext 300
Shelf-life 18 months 24 months
Training device Yes Yes
Refill reminder system Yes (My EpiPen and My EpiPen App) Yes (Expiry Alert Service)
Distributor MEDA Pharma GmbH ALK-Abelló AG

*While the Jext 150 and Jext 300 haven’t been available during the first half of 2014 in Switzerland, a Swissmedic official emailed me on July 10 to report that new lots of the product are expected in July 2014.

What caused a batch recall of Jext AAIs?

In November 2013, there was a batch recall of Jext 150 and Jext 300 in Switzerland. It was discovered that in rare cases, a defect would prevent the adrenaline from being administered properly for certain batches of these products.


How did the recall affect the supply of AAIs in Switzerland?

The batch recall meant the retail sector (i.e., pharmacies) had to return their supply of Jext that could potentially have the defect. At the same time, patients with Jext were informed to keep them, since the probability of a malfunction was very low, and based on a November 2013 notice from Swissmedic, a replacement of AAIs could not be guaranteed due to a limited supply—a situation that was occurring throughout Europe.

To help alleviate the increased demand for AAI in Switzerland, Swissmedic approved the distribution of an “emergency batch” of EpiPens “with a relatively short remaining shelf-life,” according to an agency official there. It provided temporary relief and helped prevent a shortage of this medication. Patients with extremely severe and recurrent allergic reactions that had the potentially defective Jext were allowed to receive another AAI during the recall as a precaution.

What’s the situation now?

EpiPens with a more typical shelf-life are now being made available to patients in Switzerland, according to an agency official from Swissmedic. This matches our family’s experience, as the two AAIs we picked up in May 2014 had an expiration date of June 2015. Furthermore, new lots of Jext should be coming on the market yet this month, as indicated by an Swissmedic official. All of this is good news for people living with food allergies, who depend on this medication if they ever experience a severe allergic reaction.

What kind of AAI have you or your family members been prescribed? How, if at all, have you been affected by the Jext recall? Please share a comment below, when you have the chance. Thanks in advance for your help.

Updated: July 10, 2014

Recipe: Salade Estivale for Summertime

The signs of summer are apparent here in Switzerland. Outdoor music festival season started locally with Festi’neuch. Swiss summer trail racing is also underway, and I’ll be attempting my first one next weekend. Most importantly, my son’s summer vacation from school starts in one week. And in terms of food, I’ve noticed restaurants around town are advertising their summertime salads or salades estivales.

Salade Estival Sign  2736x3648-001

My research indicates there’s no set rule for making a Swiss salade estivale, other than it should contain some sort of fresh summertime vegetables. Since I’m always trying to get my boys to eat more vegetables, we’ll be making lots of salads again during our summer vacation. The first Swiss salad recipe I’ve been making this summer is appropriately named Salade estivale, which I came across a while back in one of my Suisse romande cookbooks.

With seven vegetables to choose from in this salad, my boys tend to pick out the ones they like and leave the rest, but I still try to see it as progress. I was reminded this week by registered dietician Julia Marriott of Alimentary Bites that when it comes to serving vegetables to picky eaters, “perseverance and patience” are the only way. As with many salad recipes, the directions below serve as a guide, so feel free to swap in your favorite vegetables or mess with the quantities a bit, depending on the preferences in your household.

Salade Estivale

Adapted from Les recettes de Grand-Mère, Tome 4. Published in 2010 by the Association Alzheimer Suisse, Yverdon-les-Bains.


1 cup kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 cup green beans, chopped
1 cup red pepper, diced
1 cup peas, frozen

4 tablespoons colza/canola/rapeseed oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tarragon, finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy yogurt
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Make the dressing. Put all the ingredients in a sealed jar and shake vigorously. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Cook the vegetables. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and cook kohlrabi, carrots and potatoes together until fork tender, about 5-10 minutes. While these vegetables are cooking, use a steamer basket to steam the corn, green beans, red pepper and peas, just until tender. Do not overcook.

3. Put all the warmed vegetables in a large bowl and toss gently with the desired amount of dressing. Sprinkle with some fresh herbs and serve immediately, while still warm.

Salade Estival Sign

 I’m always grateful for the good advice and support of other food allergy parents. Many thanks to you all, and bon week-end!

Recipe: Gâteau St. Honoré with Raspberries

Gâteau St. Honoré with Raspberries 2560x3637

In our corner of Suisse-Romande, there seems to be a local version of the famous French cake—Gâteau St. Honoré. Named after the seventh-century patron saint of bakers, a Parisian pastry chef developed the cake in the 1840s. I first learned about it last month, when the boys and I were walking by my favorite local bakery. The sign out front read “St-honoré aux Framboises,” so I quick popped inside to inquire about the raspberry cake.

Bakery sign 1771x2332.19

Inside the bakery, the lady behind the counter pointed to what looked like a cream pie topped with a crown of whipped cream and glazed raspberries in the middle. Typically, I avoid custard-like desserts and glazed fruit. I don’t like making them, and I’m not a fan of eating them either. I would much rather have a big piece of Bundt cake or a sweet yeasted bread—and hopefully made with some type of chocolate.

Still, I was intrigued to learn more about it, especially given the saintly name. So, I picked up a small gâteau and my oldest son and I shared it after dinner. It was much better than I thought, with the flavors of the different sweet and tart components, along with an almost savory pastry shell, blending together with each bite.

Gâteau St. Honoré 2725x3192

I must mention, however, that some of the Swiss-French Gâteaux St. Honoré differ tremendously from the traditional version of the cake. A true St. Honoré has a ring of cream puffs on top. The French cake is especially popular in May, and particularly on May 16, the day St. Honoré reportedly died.

Allergy-Friendly Shortcuts

One of the reasons I felt more compelled to try making something like this at home was my other recent discovery: Bird’s Custard Powder from the UK. Unlike traditional custard, filled with dairy and eggs, this powder helps to thicken a non-dairy milk into a suitable substitute. To be honest, it took me 3 tries to get it right, with the first two batches going down the drain.

Bird's Custard Powder 2100x2711

Despite all the shortcuts I’ve taken for this Swiss-French Gâteau St. Honoré, like store-bought puff pastry and custard powder, this recipe still takes time. I even bought a pastry bag! I typically avoid recipes with lots of complicated and time-consuming steps, but I had to give this a try. Maybe I’ll make it again next May because the boys liked it so much. I’ll need a full year just to practice my custard and piping techniques!

Gâteau St. Honoré with Raspberries


What you’ll need:
Puff pastry, store-bought and pre-made
Custard, chilled (I used Bird’s Custard Powder and followed the directions on the can)
Fresh raspberries
Raspberry jam
Whipped cream, dairy-free (I used soy cream)
Small pie or tart pan
Parchment paper

1. Buy pre-made puff pastry and pre-bake the pastry shells in the desired pans, lined with parchment paper and following the directions on the package.

2. Make custard filling. Use your favorite dairy/egg-free custard recipe, but if you don’t have one, I recommend giving Bird’s Custard Powder a try if you can find it. Cool the custard.

3. Gently warm some raspberry jam on the stove until it thins out a bit. Pass it through a sieve to remove the seeds. Cool and gently coat the raspberries in the jam glaze.

4. Fill the cooled pastry shells with custard. Top with the glazed raspberries.

5. Using a pastry bag, pipe whipped dairy-free cream around the edges of the pastry.

6. Store in the refrigerator or eat them all at once!

Gâteau St. Honore 2 2662x3500. Honore 2662x3500

If you have any dairy/egg-free custard advice, please leave a comment below!

And, have you been watching the World Cup? Switzerland vs. France tonight, so we’ll be tuning in. Bon week-end, everyone!

Third Birthday and Upcoming Food Challenges

Dairy-free birthday cake

Our youngest son turned 3 years old this week. As we celebrate his birthday, there’s a lot to be thankful for in terms of his food allergies. We’ve had some good news this year. Here’s a quick summary:

Now I can use eggs in my son’s birthday cakes. For his party, I opted for a traditional yellow layer cake with a rhubarb swirl and chocolate frosting. The Kitchn has an easy recipe for this traditional birthday cake, which I adapted by using dairy-free margarine and rice milk.

yellow cake 2485x3175

We will be scheduling a food challenge for eggs in the upcoming months. If our son passes this test, he’ll be able to eat scrambled eggs, french toast, frittata and all those other egg-based dishes I’ve been anxiously waiting to make again. To prepare for this challenge, I’m making sure he eats some form of baked egg every day—like dried pasta, homemade cake or bread—to hopefully build up his tolerance and increase the likelihood of him passing the test.

We also have a new testing plan for his milk allergy, developed in partnership with his pediatric allergist. This involves a series of food challenges, starting with baked milk. If there’s a negative result (i.e., no reaction occurs), then we move down the list to the next test, and so on, until he completely outgrows his allergy. If there’s a positive result (i.e., a reaction occurs), then we’ll repeat the test after a certain period of time and hope he eventually passes it.

For each of these food challenges, here’s what he’ll eat:

  1. Baked milk: Cake baked with powdered milk. Looking at the data, there’s a good chance my son will pass this test. For example, a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2011) reported that approximately 75 percent of children with a cow’s milk allergy can tolerate eating foods with baked milk.
  2. Baked yogurt: Cake baked with dairy-based yogurt.
  3. Baked cheese: Pizza baked with cheese on top.
  4. Cold milk: Cold milk or possibly petit suisse again—to be determined.

From what I’ve read, our son has a good chance of outgrowing his milk allergy. I recently came across the milk allergy guidelines from the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI), which indicate that the majority of children will resolve their cow’s milk allergy and recommends individuals “be reassessed at 6-12 monthly intervals from 12 months of age to assess for suitability of reintroduction” (p. 643).

Instead of our selected approach, we could have chosen to skip all these additional tests and go straight to the cold milk test for a second time, as our son could outgrow his milk allergy on his own, without any intervention. This was the other option we considered, and it could also work.

Even though my son could outgrow his milk allergy on his own, I’m just too impatient to wait. Plus, the study cited above found that for children, consuming baked milk products can accelerate the resolution of their allergy. Knowing this, our pediatric allergist suggested this incremental approach, and my husband and I agreed with the recommendation. I would much rather actively do something and test these different forms of milk, than wait another year, have the same result and find we can’t make any changes to our son’s diet.

Being able to add powdered milk to baked goods would be such a major improvement, and it may be something we can start doing soon, should my son pass this first test. If so, our family would no longer be living completely dairy-free in Switzerland, so once again, I may have to change the name of this blog (which I would be overjoyed to do!).

Questions: Do you or your child have a cow’s milk allergy? What approach are you taking to try and resolve it? Please leave a comment below or send me an email at If you have a moment to do so, I would really appreciate it.

Many thanks, and bon week-end!

Peanuts & Tree Nuts: Translated for Switzerland

A family traveling to Switzerland this summer wrote me and asked for some help identifying peanut and tree nut ingredients. In response to their request, I’ve put together a list of common nuts translated into three of the four official languages in Switzerland: French, German and Italian.

Nuts 2974x2236

As for my methodology, I started with Google Translate. Then, after I finished my first draft of the table below, I shared it with native speakers for each of the three languages. Finally, I made changes based on their feedback. For example, I added a couple of Swiss German terms that were completely new to me.

When you review my list, if there are any terms I should add or change—such as Swiss-French terms from Suisse romande that may differ from French terms in France—please tell me! You can leave a comment below or send me an email. Also, while I hope this can be a quick reference for people living and traveling with nut allergies in Switzerland, please always use caution when reading ingredient lists or talking with restaurant staff—always ask questions if you have any doubts.









Brazil nut

noix du Brésil


noce del Brasile


noix de cajou

cashewnuss, caschunuss, cashewkerne



châtaigne, marron (roasted chestnut)

kastanie, maroni (Swiss German)







noix de macadamia

macadamia, macadamianuss



noix, fruits à coque

nüsse, schalenfrüchte



noix de pécan




arachide, cacahuète, cacahouète



pine nut

pignon de pin









walnuss, baumnuss (Swiss German)


While we no longer have to avoid peanuts and tree nuts for my son, I know what’s it’s like to do so. Hopefully your child (or children) will also outgrow their food allergies, or for everyone living with food allergies, I hope there will someday be a cure. In the meantime, I’ll keep sharing what we’ve learned via this blog, in case it’s helpful to others.

Once again, if you have any suggested edits for the table above, please send them my way. Thanks so much for your help. And, Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law!

Updated: June 30, 2014

Recipe: Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad

kohlrabi salad

I served a lunchtime salad today with a new vegetable for the kids: kohlrabi, or chou-pomme (cabbage-apple) in French. It’s apparently one of the first spring vegetables in Switzerland. We see it all over our farmers’ market this time of year, but I didn’t feel compelled to buy any until I saw a recipe calling for kohlrabi and carrots.


Instead of cooking the vegetables for the salad, as the recipe called for, I peeled and grated the raw kohlrabi and left them that way. Also, I cheated and bought two bags of pre-grated carrots from Coop, so it all came together rather quickly.

It seems like I’m throwing almonds in everything I make these days, following my son’s successful food challenge. Keeping with this trend, I sprinkled some toasted almonds on top, which I thought were a nice addition.

While the boys were hesitant to try a kohlrabi salad, the carrots certainly helped make it more appealing. I could definitely see us bringing it on a picnic or two this summer. Like my celery root salad, it reminds me of an American-style cole slaw—minus the mayonnaise and other dairy-based ingredients.

Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad

Recipe adapted from Migroscuisine de saison.
Serves 4-6


6 cups raw carrots, grated
6 cups raw kohlrabi, grated
1 bunch of fresh mint, roughly chopped

4 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple juice

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Optional: toasted almonds

1. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients. Add the dressing to the salad, combining until well incorporated. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

3. In a small frying pan, toast some thinly sliced almonds over high heat, tossing them frequently, until they become fragrant and very lightly browned. Sprinkle on top of the salad.

kohlrabi salad with carrots
How do you prepare kohlrabi? What are your favorite kohlrabi recipes? Please leave a comment below or send me an email with the details. Bon week-end, all.


Recipe: Handmade Brioche à Tête

Brioche à Tête

I recently purchased a pan for making mini-Brioche à Tête. Traditionally made with lots of dairy and eggs, these little French pastries have fluted edges and a little dough ball baked on top (a.k.a. the tête or head). It’s been over a year now since my son’s successful food challenge for baked egg, so I decided it was time to finally tackle making a dairy-free version of Brioche à Tête at home. While not a typically Swiss recipe, you can easily find these at bakeries all over Suisse romande.

Store window Brioche à Tête

Brioche à tête may seem like a challenging pastry to make at home, but I’ve tailored a recipe to meet our family’s needs—including an option for overnight preparation. We’ve been eating them all week for breakfast, served warm and slathered with apricot, ginger or raspberry jam. I wish we could use real butter instead of margarine, but I hope my version comes close to the real thing—just with more streamlined instructions and without the dairy. Please note: As you may know, I don’t use an electronic mixer. All the ingredients are mixed by hand.

Brioche à Tête

Recipe adapted from Saveur, Issue #109.

(Dairy/nut-free with baked egg)

Makes 6 rolls.

2 1/2 tablespoons warmed rice milk
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

Egg wash:

1 egg, beaten

1. Add a pinch of the sugar and all the yeast to the warmed rice milk. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. During this time, whisk together the remaining sugar, flour and salt in a separate bowl.

2. Whisk the yeast mixture into a large bowl with the 2 eggs. Then, add the flour mixture and dairy-free margarine. Stir together to form a dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Please note: The dough will be soft, but do not add any extra flour. Let the dough rise, covered in a bowl, for approximately 2 hours. (After this first rise, you could put the dough into the fridge and pick up with the next step in the morning, so you can serve warm brioche for breakfast).

3. Punch down the dough and divide into 6 equal pieces. Form the brioches into the desired shape, and I recommend using Saveur’s photos as a guide. Place in a pan greased with dairy-free margarine and let rise for another hour.

First rise, Brioche à Tête

4. After the second rise has finished, use a pastry brush to apply a light coating of the egg wash to the tops of the brioche. Please note: Rising may lesson the indentation for the têtes. You may need to do a little re-shaping, to make sure they retain their têtes while in the oven.

Second rise, Brioche à Tête

5. Heat oven to 190°C/375°F. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until deep golden brown. Let stand in the molds for about 10 minutes and then remove from the pan onto a cooling rack. Best served warm.

Baked Brioche à Tête


If you try making Brioche à Tête, please let me know how they turn out. I love being able to make these at home for my family, since the dairy-filled versions at the bakeries just aren’t safe for my son right now. Bon week-end, everyone!

Food Challenge Success: Almonds

An amazing thing happened last week. My nearly 3-year old son ate almonds for the first time during his food challenge at the hospital. He started with a small dose of ground almonds mixed in applesauce. In all, he had five increasing doses—a total of 28 grams of ground almonds (more than a 1/4 cup). Thankfully, he had absolutely no reaction.


With this test behind us, our allergist said we could start feeding my son almonds at home and should continue to do so regularly in order to build his tolerance. I was thrilled to start making one of my favorite almond recipes again—Scandinavian Almond Cake.

Avoiding Almonds

To give you some background, we started avoiding almonds for my son, along with peanuts, other tree nuts and sesame, after he had a positive blood test for peanuts back in the United States in the spring of 2012. Then, he had a positive skin prick test in December 2012 specifically for almonds, so we continued to avoid them, while also getting the go-ahead from our allergist to start introducing other tree nuts at home, like hazelnuts and pistachios. Even though he had never experienced an allergic reaction to almonds, we made sure he didn’t eat any food that contained them as intended or unintended ingredients.

Why did we wait to schedule an oral food challenge for almonds? In comparison to milk and eggs, almonds were easier to avoid and a lesser priority in terms of daily nutrition. For these reasons, and in consultation with our allergist, we focused his first two food challenges on baked eggs and cold cow’s milk. They were conducted at a local hospital and under the supervision of our son’s pediatric allergist and other medical staff. With these behind us, it was finally time to try out almonds, and thankfully, he had a great result.

Was my son ever really allergic to almonds? I can’t help but ask myself this question. We will never know for sure. Even though he had a positive skin prick test, these results are not always accurate. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), apparently 50-60 percent of these skin tests have “false-positive” results. In other words, you can eat the food without a reaction, even though you have a positive test. From what I’ve heard and read, food challenges serve as the best indicator of whether a person is truly allergic to a particular food.

While it bothers me to think we could have unnecessarily avoided almonds because he was never really allergic, I understand how we got to this point, and I’m just so grateful for the result. People typically hold onto their tree nut allergies for life. While he hasn’t tried every single tree nut out there yet, we can say confidently now that he doesn’t have any (known) tree nut allergies. He’s already been so lucky.

Furthermore, there’s a good chance my son could outgrow his egg and milk allergies in the coming years. With this most recent food challenge for almonds completed, it brings us another step closer to my goal. I’ll continue to be cautiously optimistic. In the meantime, I’ll just keep making and eating cake!

Recipe: Scandinavian Almond Cake

My dear mother introduced me to Scandinavian Almond Cake years ago. It’s a sweet cake that doesn’t need any icing. Just a dusting of powdered sugar and some almonds, served alongside a strong cup of coffee. Here in Switzerland, it reminds me of the almond-topped Financier cakes I see in the bakery windows around our neighborhood. I had a bottle of almond extract left in my cupboard from the United States that hadn’t yet expired, so I made this cake last weekend to celebrate the happy news about my son’s food challenge. We ate it up!


(Dairy-free with baked egg, but can be made without eggs.)

1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg (or one tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water)
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2/3 cup rice milk
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled

1. Grease an almond cake pan or another loaf pan. If using a non-stick pan, also dust the greased pan lightly with flour.

2. Whisk together the first four ingredients: sugar, egg (or egg substitute) and rice milk. Then, whisk in the flour and baking powder—just enough to make a smooth batter.

3. Add the melted and cooled margarine. Stir, just until blended—do not overbeat.

4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 180ºC/350ºF for about 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.


5. Cool cake for about 10 minutes, loosen it gently from the pan and invert onto a cooling rack.

Optional: Before serving, dust with powdered sugar and sliced almonds.


Tomorrow marks the last day of Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 11-17). According to FARE, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy in the United States—about 2 students in every classroom. If you’re wondering how to get involved, there’s still time to participate! Bon week-end, everyone.


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