Traditional Basel Recipes: Läkerli and Fastenwähe

Have you ever traveled to Basel, Switzerland? Maybe you live there? If so, you know last month the city hosted its annual carnival celebration recognized as one of the nation’s largest festivals. Our family visited this Swiss city in December 2012, and I wanted to share two Basel specialties—Läkerli cookies and Fastenwähe bread—that I made free of dairy, eggs and nuts.

Basel Town Hall ( Rathaus)Basel Town Hall (Rathaus)

Läkerli Cookies

When my mother was here at Christmastime, we took the kiddos to the Basel zoo—an excursion we highly recommend (the ginormous pooping rhino was a particular favorite for my 5-year old).

During our visit, I bought some delicious, chewy Läkerli (or Lekerli) cookies from the famous Läkerli Huus (not the original one; we cheated and picked them up at the train station). Filled with nuts, we took the cookies home and ate them after my food-allergic son was asleep.

We liked them so much, I tried making an allergy-friendly version. Instead of the typical almonds or hazelnuts, I used “graines de courge” (a.k.a. pumpkin seeds). While a bit labor intensive, this Food and Wine recipe worked especially well because it already doesn’t call for any dairy or eggs. Other than my nut-to-seed substitution, I followed all the recipe’s instructions—except I didn’t add a layer of pumpkin seeds before the second round of refrigerating.

Läkerli Cookies with pumpkin seedsLäkerli with pumpkin seeds

Now that we’ve tried them, I can honestly say these are my new favorite cookies! With two kinds of pepper (white and black), kirsch (cherry liquor) and candied lemon and orange peel, plus the pumpkin seeds, these cookies are highly fragrant and flavorful. Almost more like candy. I’m hoping we can try them with hazelnuts someday soon, but for now, pumpkin seeds taste great too.

Allergy-friendly, Läkerli ingredients



You may have noticed I often include links to Newly Swissed. I’m a big fan, and they recently posted a recipe for bread commonly served during Basel’s Fasnacht or carnival. I made a few slight modifications to make it allergy-friendly, and here’s the result, which I hope you’ll enjoy.


3-3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup vegetable-based margarine

1-2 tablespoons vegetable-based margarine, melted
2-3 tablespoons cumin seeds

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients—flour, yeast, sugar, and salt—in a large bowl.

2. Heat the rice milk to a very warm temperature and add the margarine. Stir to melt the margarine completely. Mix this with the dry ingredients until it forms a dough.

3. Remove the dough onto a flat surface and knead it for about 5 minutes. Let the dough rise and double in size in a bowl covered with a dish towel or plastic wrap.

4. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and use a rolling pin to form oval shapes about 15 cm/6 inches long.

After the first rise, dividing the dough

5. Use a sharp knife to cut four slits into each piece. Then, carefully stretch and place the rolls on a baking sheet. Let them rest for another 30 minutes.

Fastenwähe, ready for the second rise

6. Preheat your stove to 200°C/400°F. Brush the melted margarine over the rolls with a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, and then sprinkle cumin seeds over them.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Fastenwähe, use a real egg if you can for a shinier finish!


We took Fastenwähe along for a snack during our mini-vacation last week. Look for a blog post soon about our latest adventures in German-speaking Switzerland… 


2 thoughts on “Traditional Basel Recipes: Läkerli and Fastenwähe

  1. Jana says:

    Hey, I like your website. I think with this recipe there happened a mistake, it says Läckerli but the recipe end up showing is for Fastenwähe.

    Just thought I would point it out.

    All best

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