Lots of lucky Swiss cows spend their summers in the mountains.
Inalpes festivals happen in the springtime when cows ascend toward their alpine pastures (the fall equivalent celebrating their return is Désalpes). Imagine a parade of flower-decorated bovines with immense clanging bells around their necks.
On Mother’s Day, we checked out one such festival that occurs about once every 10 years in the town of Estavannens, not far from Gruyères in the Fribourg region. The weather was cold and wet, but we packed our lunches and piled in our Mobility car to experience this traditional Swiss event.
Since 1956, the small mountain village of Estavannens has held a Poya celebration seven times. In the local dialect, the term Poya apparently refers to herds rising to their pastures. This 5-day event with food, music and more culminates in the cow procession on Sunday—a clanging parade of cows and other livestock with their human handlers dressed in traditional costumes.
Making Saffron Bread
At the Poya festival, the huge food tent served up typical festival fare—french fries, chicken nuggets, Swiss sausages, and pizza, for example. So when we got home, I decided to try making an allergy-friendly recipe from the Fribourg region. After consulting my Swiss cookbook, I chose a yellow-tinged saffron bread or “Cuchaule.”
After two failed attempts with saffron threads—the yellow color didn’t flow throughout the bread (I should have known better)—I finally tracked down small packets of powdered saffron, and it worked great.
Also, while I used flax meal in the bread, I decided to try an egg wash for the first time in over a year—now that our son has passed his “baked egg” food challenge. An egg wash gets crazy-baked to the point of turning brown, and the bread bakes for 25 minutes at 200°C/400°F, so I felt comfortable serving this to him (FYI: Allergy UK has a helpful table with “egg foods,” but always consult your allergist first to make sure).
The Swiss serve Cuchaule with Bénichon mustard, a sweet and savory condiment made with white wine, vin cuit and spices. While I have a recipe for it, I couldn’t spare the time this week to make homemade mustard. I checked around for a pre-made version at a few stores, but found out it’s a seasonal product sold in the fall. So, like the Swiss, I’ll hold off until fall to try my own Bénichon mustard.
In the meantime, we’ll enjoy our Cuchaule! Here’s the allergy-friendly recipe I modified from my Betty Bossi cookbook.
(dairy/nut-free), can be made egg-free
3-3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
150 ml soy or rice milk
100 ml water
3 tablespoons vegetable-based margarine
1 pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water (or 1 egg)
Glaze: 1 egg yolk, beaten OR 1-2 tablespoons vegetable-based margarine, melted
1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl—3 cups of flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Set aside.
2. Separately, mix together the milk substitute, water, margarine and saffron. Gently heat in a small saucepan, stirring constantly, just until the margarine is melted.
3. Mix flax meal with water and set aside for a few minutes. Add to dry ingredients along with the warmed saffron mixture. Stir together to form dough. Knead for about 5-10 minutes, adding the remaining flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Place in a covered bowl. Let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
5. Form the dough into a round loaf and brush with glaze. Make crisscross cuts along the top. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Bake for about 25 minutes at 200°C/400°F. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
I could really devote a weekly series to Swiss bread. So many different, regional options. Look forward to trying them all. What’s your favorite? And, as always, Bon week-end!