Recipe: Swiss Stollen for Christmas


For Christmas this year, I’ve started making Stollen. This rich yeasted cake originated in Germany, but you can find it in our Suisse romande bakeries and grocery stores (and I assume it’s even more readily available in German-speaking Switzerland).

I adapted a recipe from Croqu’menus—the Swiss cookbook students use in public school classrooms—so it’s dairy-free for my son. The dough is studded with raisins, flaked almonds and candied lemon and orange peel. My favorite part is the log of almond paste that spans the length of the cake.

store window stollen

Swiss Stollen at a local bakery

Dating back centuries, the Stollen’s oval shape supposedly resembles the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. In particular, Dresden, Germany seems to be the international epicenter for this special Christmas cake. For more information about the history of the Stollen, the Food Network has compiled a quick summary.

Marzipan vs. Almond Paste

Stollen recipes vary, but from what I’ve seen, they often contain marzipan. For the first one I made, I used marzipan. Soon after, I came across a very helpful post from The Kitchn comparing marzipan and another similar product, almond paste. Before, I thought these products were the same thing, but when I visited our Swiss grocery stores, I noticed two different products to choose from: marzipan and pâte d’amandes.

My Swiss recipe calls for pâte d’amandes, which I used in my second batch of Stollen, and I thought the consistency was better than marzipan. The pâte d’amandes seemed a little softer and less sweet. I think you can certainly use marzipan, but I prefer the almond paste—even though they only have a slight difference both in taste and appearance.

Stollen de Noël

Recipe adapted from Croqu’menus (9th edition, 2005, p. 268).

Makes two loaves

150 ml milk substitute (I used soy milk)
20 grams fresh yeast
4 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
60 grams dairy-free margarine, softened
300 grams all-purpose flour (and about an extra 1/4-1/2 cup for kneading)
1 teaspoon salt

Dried fruit and nut mixture:
5 tablespoons raisins (I used golden raisins)
5 tablespoons flaked almonds
1 tablespoon candied lemon peel, chopped
1 tablespoon candied orange peel, chopped
2 drops of almond extract (essence d’amandes amères)

100 grams almond paste (pâte d’amandes; marzipan works too if you can’t find almond paste)

50 grams dairy-free margarine
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (optional)


1. Add the fresh yeast to the soy milk and sugar. Let is set for a few minutes and then stir until completely dissolved. Set aside.

2. Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture, along with the egg and spoonfuls of the softened dairy-free margarine. Stir together until a soft dough forms.

3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Please note: The dough is very soft and sticky to start, but be patient. Add some flour to prevent sticking, but only a little at a time. Try not to add too much so it stays nice and soft. I even use Paul Hollywood’s dough-throwing method for this recipe, because the dough is difficult to handle at first.

4. When the dough is ready, quick knead in the fruit and nut mixture, along with the almond extract, just until well incorporated throughout the dough. Please note: I find it easier to do this final knead back in the bowl, rather than on a flat surface.

5. Place the dough in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.

6. Punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half. Roll each of the two pieces of dough out and make two ovals about 1-inch (3 cm) thick.

7. Divide the almond paste in half, so that each piece weighs about 50 grams. Using your hands, roll the paste into 2 logs measuring a little less than the length of the two ovals. Place them in the center of the ovals. Fold the dough in half, covering the log of almond paste.

8. Cover the loaves in plastic and let rise for another hour or so.


9. Melt the margarine and brush some over the loaves, saving about 2/3 of the margarine for two additional coatings—the second about halfway through the baking process, and the third and final coating brushed on after the loaves are out of the oven, but still warm.

10. After the first coating of margarine is brushed on, bake the loaves at 200°C/400°F for about 20-30 minutes, until the loaves have developed a deep brown color. About halfway through the baking process, give them another coating of margarine.

11. Take the loaves out of the oven, and while still warm, brush the rest of the margarine over them. Let them cool on a wire rack.

12. After the loaves have cooled, mix together the powdered sugar and vanilla sugar and coat the loaves generously with this mixture. Store them tightly wrapped in plastic. Tie them with a ribbon for a perfect holiday gift! Best eaten the first day or two after baking.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2015! Please check back the week of January 5th for my next post. Joyeuses fêtes, et bonne année!

Save the date: January 27, 2015 – Benefizkonzert der stiftung aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse in Bern


Swiss Bread Recipe: Grappe de Miche


The Swiss bake their bread in all different sizes and shapes, and in Suisse-Romande, there’s a loaf resembling a cluster of grapes—Grappe de Miches. Last weekend, when our small Swiss city celebrated the grape harvest with its annual te des vendanges (wine festival). I noticed two boulangeries with these festive loaves prominently displayed in their windows.

grappe de miche2
With the start of October and cooler temperatures on the way, I will start baking again in earnest. This grape-inspired loaf seemed like a good way to kick of the season!

Grappe de Miche

Inspired by the  “Pain blanc en couronne” from Supertoinette.

(dairy, egg, nut and soy-free)

500 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
7 grams of dry active yeast
300 ml of water, very warm
2 tablespoons sunflower oil (plus about 1 tsp. more)

1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl.

2. In a separate container, add the yeast to the warmed water and set aside for a few minutes to let it dissolve. Stir until it’s completely absorbed in the water.

3. Pour the yeast mixture and the sunflower oil into the large bowl with the flour mixture. Stir together until a dough forms. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it become smooth and elastic.

4. Add about 1 teaspoon of oil to a large bowl, and turn the kneaded dough in the oil mixture. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise for about an hour, until it’s doubled in size.

5. Next, divide the dough into about 13 pieces. Form 10 round buns of equal proportions as the “grapes.” Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, as shown below, leaving a little room between the buns. Next prepare the decorations (I used a maple leaf cookie cutter and made a small grapevine) and place them on top. Finally, using the remaining dough to make a stem. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it rise again for about 30 minutes.


6. Sprinkle the loaf generously with flour and bake at approximately 30 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF.


7. When the top of the loaf is nicely browned and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, then it’s done. We like eating this when it’s still warm, but the buns can be kept for a day or two, if they’re tightly wrapped in plastic.

My 3-year old and I had a picnic yesterday with sandwiches made from our Grappe de Miche, while my 7-year old hiked along the lake with his school. I hope you have a wonderful first weekend of October. Bon week-end, all!

Recipe: Petits Pains for Swiss National Day

Petits Pains

Every year on August 1, Switzerland celebrates Swiss National Day. Here in Suisse romande, we know this holiday as Fête nationale or 1er août. Given the Swiss affinity for bread, it’s not surprising that there’s a special bun prepared for the holiday. Known as August-weggen (German), Pain du 1er août (French) or Panino del 1° agosto (Italian), the small and large versions are cut and baked to look like there’s a Swiss cross on top. They’re typically decorated with a small paper version of the red and white Swiss flag.

This year marks our first time celebrating Fête Nationale in Switzerland. Our first year here, we arrived one day after the celebration on Saturday, August 2, 2012. Now I understand why everything was so quiet the morning we drove from the airport in Zurich to our new home! The Swiss were sleeping in after a day of local celebrations and feasting—traditionally an outdoor brunch at a local farm—and watching fireworks late into the evening.

Instead of heading to a farm for a local brunch on Friday—which would undoubtedly have tables heaped with delicious Swiss cheeses and other milk and egg-filled dishes—we’re choosing to have our own picnic and bonfire at a local park. We’ll be roasting cervalas, often referred to as the Swiss national sausage, as well as marshmallows, to give our celebration an American twist. I’ll also be serving my own version of Petits Pains du 1er août, but mine will be made without dairy.

Rütli Meadow: The Birthplace of Switzerland

To give you some background, Swiss National Day commemorates the founding of Switzerland in 1291. The story goes that the leaders of three cantons—Schwyz, Unterwalden and Uri—came together at the Rütli Meadow to form a strategic alliance. The pact made by these three original cantons ultimately led to the formation of Switzerland and the 26 cantons we know today (there’s a great video from with some beautiful images of Rütli and more detailed info about its history).

We visited the Rütli Meadow earlier this month when we stayed a few nights in Brunnen (as an aside, we had a pleasant stay at the Hotel Schmid & Alfa, which has a few apartments with kitchens, so we could make our own meals). From Brunnen, we took a 10-minute ferry ride across Lake Lucerne to Rütli. During our visit to this historic site with incredible views, only a few other families crossed our path. We had a peaceful time exploring the pristine meadow, seeing happy Swiss cows and having a snack at the picnic area (that’s shown in the video above). If you’re in the vicinity, it’s certainly worth a stop.

Rutli Meadow

The view from Rütli Meadow

Swiss National Day started in 1891, but it became a federal holiday over a century later in 1994. Also, the Swiss didn’t start making Pain du 1er août until 1959, when it was invented by the Swiss national association for bakers and confectioners. The small version of the buns are very similar to Petits Pains au Lait, except they have a patriotic shape cut into the top.

Bakery petits pains 2152x1757.17

Pain du 1er août in a Suisse romande bakery window


Pain du 1er août (even a chocolate version) at the supermarket

Petits Pains for Swiss National Day

Recipe adapted from one of my favorite Suisse romande bloggers, Delimoon

(dairy/nut-free, can be made without egg)

Makes 8 rolls

500 grams all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
300 ml soy or rice milk,
very warm
7 grams (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

60 grams dairy-free margarine, softened
1 egg,
beaten (or 1-2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled)

1. Whisk together the first three ingredients in a large bowl. Add the softened margarine. Set aside.

2. Add yeast to the warmed soy or rice milk, along with a pinch of sugar. Gently stir and let sit for a few minutes until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture begins to foam slightly.

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl with the flour mixture and margarine. Stir until a dough forms. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, stopping when it becomes smooth and elastic.

4. Let the dough rise for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Punch down the dough and cut into 8 equal pieces. Shape the pieces into round buns and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the buns with plastic wrap and let them rise for another 30 minutes.

5. With a pastry brush, gently brush on the egg wash (or melted margarine). Then, using kitchen shears or a very sharp knife, make cuts into the dough that resemble the cross on the Swiss flag.


6. Bake the buns for 20-30 minutes at 200°C/400°F. Remove and tap the bottoms. If they sound hollow, then they’re done. Place on a wire rack to cool.


Happy Swiss National Day! We’re looking forward to a 3-day weekend. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Bon week-end, all!

Petits Pains au Lait (de Riz)

On my way to French class the other night, I stopped at a bakery and picked up a Petit Pain au Lait. My 6-year old had just finished his soccer lesson, so I was running from one thing to the next without time to eat a proper dinner.

Petit Pain au Lait, or Weggli in German, are soft little buns with two halves. Every type of Swiss boulangerie around us sells Petit Pain au Lait, and they seem particularly popular with kids. I’ve even seen them prepared with a chocolate coin inserted in the side, like a little dessert sandwich.

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There’s evidence that Petit Pain au Lait date back to the 16th century in Switzerland. Made with white flour, these buns were at one time considered a luxury that not everyone could afford.

During the last week, I’ve been referring to these petits pain as ″butt buns″ because they have a big crack in the middle, but my 6-year old said this actually wasn’t very polite. I’m not sure when he became the arbiter of good behavior, but I guess this isn’t a bad thing, right?

When I started searching for a recipe online, I quickly found one from Potes and Rollmops, a food blog in French that’s also based in our small corner of Switzerland. I’ve made it about 4-5 times in the last week and changed the recipe a bit along the way to make them dairy and egg-free. A big thank you to the guys at Potes and Rollmops for sharing their recipe!

An egg yolk brushed on top before baking gives the bun a nice shine and color. However, with the shorter baking time, I actually thought my 2-year old may have had an allergic reaction this week after eating one with the egg yolk glaze. While he didn’t have any hives like he normally does with eggs, he had other symptoms similar to those of an allergic reaction. I kept a close eye on him. Everything was fine, and I don’t know for sure that the egg caused his symptoms, but just in case, I’m sticking with an egg-free version for now.


Petits Pains au Lait

Recipe adapted from Potes and Rollmops.

(dairy, egg and nut-free)

300 grams bread flour or farine à tresse
200 ml rice milk, warmed
50 grams of dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 20 grams of fresh yeast)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Add the yeast and sugar to the warmed rice milk. Stir gently and set aside until the yeast has dissolved.

2. Whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center. Pour in the melted and cooled margarine and the rice milk mixture. Stir until a soft dough forms.

3. Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes. The dough may be sticky, but be patient, and add a little flour, if necessary. When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a towel. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled.

4. After the dough has finished rising, divided it into six equal parts. Using the palm of your hand, roll the dough into a ball shape. Then, press the ball with your hands to flatten it into a circle—about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Next, using a sharp knife, cut the bun in half. Push the two pieces of dough back together, and then pinch the seam on the edges to help keep it together. (Please note: If it isn’t pinched together enough, it will likely pull apart while it bakes!).

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5. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F and bake for about 17-20 minutes or until golden brown.



I’m planning to make chocolate truffles for St. Valentin this Friday and will share the recipe/s if they turn out! What allergy-friendly treats do you have planned for Valentine’s Day?

Suisse-Romande Roast Chicken

Despite the cold weather in the United States, we’ve had a relatively mild winter thus far in our small corner of Switzerland. My 6-year old’s ski lesson was cancelled one day over Christmas vacation due to heavy rain and not enough good snow. Having grown up in Minnesota, I always enjoy a cold and snowy winter. This year’s Swiss winter hasn’t met my expectations yet.


We can find snow up in the mountains, but it hasn’t arrived down by the lake where we live.

Even without the wintry weather, we’ve had many cloudy and foggy days without much sunlight. This weather calls for roast chicken, and I’ve found a recipe that’s become almost a weekly meal in our household: Poulet au citron de Suisse romande (loosely translated, Swiss-Romandy Lemon Chicken). We’ve made this at least a half dozen times now—when I manage to have all the ingredients, and I don’t forget about the 2-hour marinating time! Roast chicken is such a warm and comforting meal for our Sunday night dinner, and it’s great for Monday leftovers.


Poulet au Citron de Suisse-Romande

chasselasAdapted from Les recettes de Grand-Mère, Tome 5. Published in 2011 by the Association Alzheimer Suisse, Yverdon-les-Bains.


1 whole chicken
juice of 2 lemons
6-7 shallots
3 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, softened
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon herbes de provence
2 lemons
100 ml white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place the raw chicken in a large, oven-safe pot or roasting pan. Rub the chicken with lemon juice and place in the refrigerator to marinate for about 2 hours.

2. Set-aside 2 shallots in a small bowl. Cut the rest in half and arrange in the pot around the chicken.

3. Mix together the dairy-free margarine, mustard and herbs. Take out 1 tablespoon of the mixture and mix together with the remaining shallots. Stuff the shallots and half a lemon into the chicken. You can truss the chicken with some kitchen string, if you want to.

4. Spread the remaining margarine mixture evenly on the outside of the chicken. I threw half a lemon into the pot before baking too, but it’s not necessary.


5. Place chicken in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F for 1 1/4 hours. Then, drizzle with wine, add lemon slices and let simmer briefly in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.


6. Using a meat thermometer, check to make sure the chicken has reached the recommended temperature of 75°C/165°F. Take the chicken out of the oven and allow to sit for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the lemon and shallots and place them around the chicken on a serving platter. Then, reduce the sauce over medium-high heat until slightly thickened.


On Monday night, I made Sher-Ping Pancakes with some of the leftover chicken, this time using basil instead of cilantro. What do you make with your leftover roast chicken?

Updated: I (finally) removed the directions about rinsing the raw chicken in cold water. Recent guidance indicates this step isn’t necessary and can actually increase the risk of foodbourne illness. November 2, 2014.

Dairy-Free Hazelnut Crescent Rolls

On Sunday morning, we packed up some freshly baked hazelnut crescent rolls for a visit to our neighborhood Christmas market. I prepared the hazelnut filling the night before and quickly made the dough in the morning. This easy recipe makes a nice dairy-free pastry without too much effort!


I had been searching for a new Swiss holiday recipe to try when I came across this one from Swiss Milk for “Croissant aux noisettes.” The recipe calls for crumbled up pieces of leftover Christmas cookies. Perfect for me, because I burned a pan of “Etoiles à la Canelle” while getting ready for a holiday party last weekend. I couldn’t bear to throw them out and was looking for a creative way to use them up. I still have cookies leftover, so I’ll be making these rolls again before the holiday season is over. I hope you like them too!


Hazelnut Crescent Rolls

(Dairy-free, baked egg)
Adapted from Swiss Milk’s recipe (in French).

Makes 6 rolls

250 grams all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
100 ml rice milk, very warm
50 grams dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten

180 grams ground hazelnuts, toasted
50 grams cookies, crumbled (e.g., crushed in a plastic bag with a rolling pin)*
100 ml water
100 grams sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

5 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1-2 drop(s) freshly squeezed lemon juice

*Christmas cookies like Etoiles à la Canelle, Basler Brunsli, Milanais, or other chocolate and vanilla cookies, etc.

1. For the filling, mix ground hazelnuts and crumbled cookies. Separately, boil water and sugar until sugar is completely melted. Stir together with the warm hazelnuts , adding the lemon zest and juice and cinnamon. Cover and let cool completely. Put in the fridge and leave overnight.

2. For the dough, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warmed rice milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Pour into the yeast mixture in the well, along with the butter and egg. Knead to obtain a soft dough that bounces back when pressed. Please note: The dough will be sticky, so be patient, but add a little flour, as needed. Cover and let stand at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.

3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle and cut into 6 triangular pieces. Divide filling evenly, and roll into crescents. Please note: There’s lots of filling, and I had some leftover.


4. Bake 20-25 minutes in an oven preheated to 200°C/400°F.

5. While the rolls are still hot, whisk together all the icing ingredients. Smooth the glaze on the top of the rolls and let them cool completely (or if you can’t wait, like me, eat them while they’re still warm!).



What are your favorite allergy-friendly recipes for the holiday season? Please share by leaving a comment below or sending me an email. Thanks!

Swiss Bread: Grittibänz/Bonhomme de Pâte

With Bundt Day and Thanksgiving behind us, I’ll be focusing on Swiss Christmas treats from now until the end of 2013. To kick off the holiday baking bonanza, I’m starting with yet another Swiss bread: Grittibänz (German) or Bonshommes de Pâte (French). These little bread men are made primarily for Saint Nicholas Day, and likely date back to the 16th century, according to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse. Very loosely translated, “Grittibänz” apparently means something like “old frail man walking with his legs spread apart.”

From what I’ve heard, the celebration of Saint Nicholas on December 6th occurs more in the German-speaking and Catholic-leaning cantons of Switzerland. However, I’ve been learning about celebrations happening here in French-speaking Suisse-Romande as well, particularly in the canton of Fribourg.

My 6-year old has been helping to teach me about this Swiss holiday, as he and his classmates were singing about Saint Nicholas and his donkey yesterday. Today, he came home and told me how Saint Nicholas travels with a sidekick, le Père Fouettard (or “Schmutzli” in German), who hits badly-behaved children with a broom (!). He also heard that Saint Nicholas hands out Bonshommes de Pâte, so it looks like I’ll be making these again this week…


Bonshommes de Pâte (Grittibänz)

Adapted from the recipe in Croqu’menus (2005).

(dairy/nut-free; can be made without egg)

350 ml rice milk, room temperature
7 grams (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
60 grams of dairy-free margarine
500 grams bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
canola oil, for greasing the bowl

1 egg, beaten (or melted dairy-free margarine)
Toppings: pumpkin seeds (almonds are more traditional, but we’re avoiding them), dried raisins or cranberries, coarse grains of sugar

1. Add the rice milk, yeast and sugar to a large bowl. Let the yeast dissolve for a few minutes on its own and then whisk together. Add flour, margarine and salt to the yeast mixture and stir together until dough forms.

2. Knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes. The dough will be sticky, but be patient. Add a little flour, if necessary. Once the dough is smooth and elastic (when you press the dough with your finger, it bounces back), place in a greased bowl and turn greased side up. Let it rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. Shape the dough into about 1-4 bread men. Here’s a quick video (in German) from Swiss Milk that gives an overview of how to shape the dough (it also features other small bread shapes for Christmas; skip to 2:50 for the section on Grittibänz).

4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Let the bread rise while the oven preheats. Just before placing in the oven, brush the top of the bread with some of the beaten egg (or melted margarine). Decorate with pumpkin seeds (or almonds) and other dried fruit and coarse grains of sugar.

5. Bake for 30 minutes until the bread is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.



Finally, a big “thank you” to the Food Librarian for including my Vegan Chocolate Bundt Cake with Speculoos Glaze in her National Bundt Day 2013 Round-Up.

Swiss Bread: Pain Paysan

With a name like “Pain Paysan” (a.k.a. “Peasant Bread”), you could imagine this bread baking in home kitchens for centuries throughout the Swiss countryside.


In reality, a professional school and a Swiss employment association developed Pain Paysan in the 1950s, according to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse. Using a combination of white and rye flour, this new recipe also called for milk, as was a way to use up a surplus commodity.

Over half a century later, it’s clear the marketing strategy worked. You can still find Pain Paysan on grocery store shelves and boulangeries all over Switzerland. I bought a small loaf at our local market for about 2 CHF this week. It’s a good, everyday bread and recommended for sweet (chocolate) or savory (cold cuts and cheese) accompaniments .

My homemade and allergy-friendly version of Pain Paysan contains rice milk. It’s extremely easy to make and has few ingredients. We’ve been eating the bread with jam, and in particular, a delicious homemade “confiture de pruneaux” (plum jam) from a friend.



Bauernbrot / Pain Paysan / Pane del nonno or Pane Paesano

Adapted from the Swiss agricultural information center’s recipe.


375 grams white flour
125 grams rye flour
7 grams active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
200 ml rice milk
150 ml water

1. Whisk together dry ingredients: white and rye flours, yeast and salt. Combine and gently bring the water and rice milk to room temperature.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir until a dough forms, and knead until its soft and airy. The dough should gently spring back when pressed. Cover and let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Shape the dough into a round loaf and sprinkle with flour. Using a sharp knife, make shallow slices across the top of the loaf to form a grid. Cover and let the dough rise again for about 15 minutes.

4. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes until the loaf is lightly browned. When tapped, the bottom of the bread should sound hollow.


This morning, I made little jam sandwiches with Pain Paysan for the boys’ breakfast. We were on an early train to Bern. It was a crisp and sunny morning in the Swiss capital city. Bon week-end, everyone!

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Swiss Bread: Valaisan Pain de Seigle

Our latest Swiss adventure happened last weekend in the canton of Valais. My brother-in-law’s invitation to run in the Sierre-Zinal race led us there, along with a great vacation rental with a kitchen that we found via Known as one of Europe’s premier trail races, the Sierre-Zinal celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. So, we packed up the family and hit the road in a rental car, ready to explore the Val d’Anniviers, cheer on all the runners and enjoy some traditional Valasian rye bread.

Arriving in Grimentz

The quiet village of Grimentz served as our base for exploring around the valley. We took a narrow and windy road with lots of switchbacks up from Sierre. Squished in the middle between the boys and their enormous car seats, I felt a bit nauseous by the time we arrived. Luckily, the beautiful scenery made it worthwhile—mountain views, historic sun-weathered granaries and tons of window boxes filled with brilliant red geraniums.



Rye Bread from Valais

Our first morning in Grimentz, I picked up a loaf of rye bread or pain de seigle at one of the two local bakeries we visited. Throughout Switzerland, with its several hundred bread varieties, the Valaisan rye bread is the only one that can use the AOP label (appellation d’origine protégée or protected designation of origin). Bread adorned with this label must be made with rye flour grown, milled and processed in Valais.


I brought the rye bread with us to the playground in Grimentz, along with some other sweet pastries from the bakeries. After I photographed the bread on a picnic table while the kids were playing, I tried to rip off a hunk to try it. The bread was so dry and dense, I almost couldn’t tear it apart. After several tries, I wrestled off a small piece, took a bite and found myself chewing for a while. The taste was great, but I really needed a hot beverage, bowl of soup or a lot of jam to really enjoy it.

Before we left town, my husband picked up a bag of the traditional Valaisan rye flour, so I could trying making it at home. The tourist office in Grimentz sells the flour and has copies of the recipe to share. I was pleased to see the traditional recipe was dairy, egg and nut-free—although it can be made with nuts, raisins, dried apricots, cumin or other ingredients.


“The farmers, bakers and millers of Grimentz wish you all enjoyment in making and tasting your own rye bread.” –From the Grimentz office of tourism

The bread was extremely easy to make, but with a 12-hour rising time, you have to be patient. My version was a little softer, but I actually prefer it that way. I’ll have to try making this again with rye flour from the grocery store to see how it compares. For now, we’re enjoying our AOP-like bread with dairy-free margarine and raspberry jam for breakfast.


Grimentzard Rye Bread


1 kg rye flour from the mill
750 ml cold water
20 grams gfresh yeast
30 grams salt

1. Knead all the ingredients well for at least 15 minutes. Let the dough rise in a large bowl somewhere cool for 12 hours.

2. When the dough has doubled in volume, make it into a ball and roll it in flour. Let the dough rise and settle so the surface becomes cracked.

3. Bake for about an hour at 240°C/475°F. Wait until it cools completely to eat it. Store the bread in a paper bag.



I’m always looking for traditional Swiss recipes I can make at home, especially those sans dairy, eggs and nuts. If you have any to share, please leave a comment below or email me at Thanks, and bon week-end!

Swiss Bread: Pane Ticinese

Tessinerbrot. Pain tessinois. Pane ticinese. Different languages, different names. All for the same Swiss bread. When we arrived last year, this was the first store-bought bread I found that was safe for my food-allergic son. In the last few months, Coop has started selling an organic version of pain tessinois, but it contains milk. So, I thought I would try making it at home this time.

Please note: Since I published this post, the non-bio Pain tessinois at Coop now has a warning that it may contain traces of milk. As a reminder, please always read food labels carefully.

A Cantonal Bread

The Swiss government recognizes Pane ticinese as the cantonal bread of Ticino. A loaf of this bread typically contains five sections, which can be broken apart with your hands and shared. Apparently, bakers considered it disrespectful to use a knife to cut fresh bread.


In Italian-speaking Switzerland, Pane ticinese has been around for hundreds of years. Unlike the traditional Zopf bread made with butter and milk, Pane ticinese is traditionally made with water and oil. As such, this bread’s ingredients are safe for our son with multiple food allergies. Bakers often use an egg wash to create its golden brown crust, and since our son passed his baked egg challenge, he can safely eat it this way.


Pane Ticinese

I adapted a recipe from and didn’t have to make any recipe substitutions.


3-3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups water, very warm
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (7 grams)
2 tablespoons olive or other vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten

1. Add yeast to the warm water and let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast has dissolved. Add the oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Mix vigorously until well-blended.

2. Stir in another cup of flour to form a dough. Knead for about 5-10 minutes, adding additional flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled.

3. Once the dough has risen, divide it into 5 equal parts. Make 5 small, elongated loaves and set them side by side, nearly touching on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let rise for another 30 minutes.

4. Then, using a pastry brush or the back of spoon, spread a thin layer of the beaten egg on the top of the dough. With a sharp knife, make a long cut through the center of the loaf.


5. Bake at 200°C/400°F for 30-35 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool.



We’re taking a family vacation, so you won’t be seeing any posts from me in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to send me your favorite Swiss recipes. Just leave a comment below or email me at Thanks so much!

Updated: December 29, 2014