Recipe: Magenbrot – Chocolate Gingerbread

‘Tis the season for Christmas markets in Switzerland, and I hope to visit one soon! To date, I’ve strolled through these festive markets in Montreux, Neuchâtel and Zurich. With a steaming mug of vin chaud in my hands, I have to always stop and admire all the sweet Swiss treats. I still have many to try, but one of my favorites is Magenbrot—small cocoa gingerbreads coated with dark chocolate icing.

Christmas market stall - Zurich

Zurich Christmas Market, December 2013

magenbrot - onion festival

Onion Market in Bern, November 2013

Magenbrot means “stomach bread” in German. According to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, the name developed because the spices and sugar contained in the bread were supposed to aid digestion. Instead of wheat flour, recipes for Magenbrot call for rye flour, which gives the gingerbread a little more texture. You can typically find these at fall festivals in Switzerland, like the Bern Onion Market, and at Christmas markets. Bakeries that make Magenbrot traditionally sell them wrapped in pink paper.


(dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free)

Recipe adapted from Betty Bossi.

Dry ingredients:
300 grams rye flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
125 grams sugar
150 ml rice milk
1 tablespoon kirsch

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl until well-blended.

2. In a separate container, whisk together the wet ingredients and then pour into the large bowl with the flour mixture. Stir until a dough forms.

3. Turn the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll with a floured rolling pin until you have a rectangle, about 2 cm thick. Cut the rectangle into about 5 strips of dough with a sharp knife. Please note: The dough will be a bit sticky, so use a little extra flour to help shape it.

Magenbrot dough

4. Bake at 180°C/350°F for about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack. When still warm, cut into pieces, approximately 2 x 4 cm. Let the pieces continue to cool while you prepare the glaze.

Magenbrot Glaze

100 grams allergy-friendly dark chocolate
20 grams dairy-free margarine
100 ml water
250 grams powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of salt

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the first three ingredients together, just until the chocolate is melted and well-blended. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients.

2. Put the cooled Magenbrot in a large bowl and pour the warm glaze over them. Toss them gently in the glaze until well-coated.

3. Place the Magenbrot on a wire rack to cool and for the glaze to harden. Store in an airtight container.


I just froze some homemade Magenbrot so my son can have an allergy-friendly treat during our next visit to a Swiss Christmas market. They’re easy to make and highly addictive!


Neuchâtel’s Fête des Vendanges 2013

Neuchâtel hosted a huge wine festival over the weekend, known as “Fête des Vendanges.” This event draws an enormous crowd, spanning over three days and into the wee hours of the night. The wine flows, along with copious amounts of beer and liquor. The music plays until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night and until midnight on Sunday. We missed the festival last year, so this was our first time experiencing it.


In its 88th year, this year’s festival did not disappoint. The weather wasn’t always perfect, but the party never stopped. We attended parades, checked out rides (which reminded me of the Minnesota State Fair’s Midway) and enjoyed local food and wine.

I’ve been inspired to make a few allergy-friendly versions of fête-related foods, but today’s “Soupe des Vendanges” was a total failure. And, I definitely won’t be making the nearly raw horse meat sandwich that my husband accidentally ordered (horse meat is common here). Until I perfect a recipe that’s good enough to post, I wanted to share a few photos and videos from Fête des Vendanges 2013.

Neuchâtel-20130928-00781View from the ferris wheel (Photo credit: Helen Kim)

DSC01481A huge pot of choucroute (sauerkraut)

DSC01427Covered in confetti and watching the parade

A wandering band

Cow bell procession

I just finished watching the Great British Bake-Off, and the contestants were making “Spotted Dick” out of suet. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. Hope you’re having a good week!

Longest Meal Ever: Festin Neuchâtelois 2013

I talked some friends into attending a 4-course meal of typically Swiss foods from the canton of Neuchâtel last weekend. Restaurants throughout the canton participated in Festin Neuchâtelois, including our pick—Restaurant Au Château in Colombier. Each site served a set meal of traditional dishes made with “produits du terroir” (local products). Little did I know when the meal started at noon, it would last for over 6 hours!



When I saw the posters up around town for Festin Neuchâtelois, I decided I had to attend. One of my goals for this blog is to identify Swiss recipes I can recreate at home—free of my son’s allergens. Some recipes that I’ve found, like for Pane Ticinese, don’t call for milk, eggs and nuts. For other recipes, I enjoy adapting them to include allergy-friendly ingredients, like using coconut milk to make Salée à la Crème. I thought this would be a great opportunity to try lots of local foods, all at once.

Festin Neuchâtelois did not disappoint. It was the longest meal I’ve ever had. So many delicious plates of food. For the full menu at Restaurant Au Château that day, click here (in French). The photos below provide examples of some of the dishes served during each of the “services” or courses.

1er service

DSC01172Bondelle fumée du lac” (Smoked whitefish of the lake)

DSC01175“Gelée de pied de veau à la lie” (Calf’s foot jelly, this wasn’t my favorite…)

2ème service

DSC01178“Pot-au-feu” (French beef stew)

DSC01180“Saucisson neuchâtelois IGP cuit à la braise sur pétcha” (Neuchâtel sausage)

3ème service

DSC01182“Tourte aux poireaux” (Leek pie)

DSC01168“Pièces d’agneau rôties au serpolet” (Lamb roasted with wild thyme)

4ème service

DSC01184Tarte aux fruits, Crème bachique, Parfait glacé à l’absinthe”
(Fruit tart, Bacchanalian cream, and Parfait absinthe)

All of us took home a small cookbook with the recipes from our huge feast. I’m hoping to make some of these dishes soon and will post the recipes when/if I get them right. That reminds me… If anyone knows where I can get a cheap bricelet press, please send me an email (the new one I saw here in town was CHF 240!).

As always, thanks for reading and supporting Dairy-Free Switzerland. Bon week-end!

Swiss Bread: Taillaule Neuchâteloise

My first blog post appeared exactly one year ago, as of yesterday. When I envisioned Swiss food back then, I didn’t realize that, along with chocolate and cheese, Switzerland loves its bread. In fact, this small nation has over 200 varieties of bread, including 22 pains de canteaux or cantonal breads (see also Newly Swissed’s guide to cantonal breads).

Last week, I tackled an allergy-friendly version of Cuchaule, a delicious saffron bread from the Fribourg region, and this week, I tried a bread from our own canton—Taillaule Neuchâteloise. While not the official cantonal bread, Taillaule has been around since the 18th century, according to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse. Even now, I see it all over boulangeries in our Swiss city. A few weeks ago I bought my first loaf of Tauillaule (the real thing, full of dairy and eggs), after both my husband and a friend recommended I attempt an allergy-friendly version.

Taillaule Neuchâtel photo

Taillaule gets its name from the French verb tailler or “to cut.” Before baking, you take a scissor (or sharp knife) and make deep, horizontal cuts in the dough. Typically eaten at breakfast, this sweet bread contains raisins and candied lemon peel. I’ve also seen recipes with honey, but the recipe I adapted uses a tablespoon of rum.


Taillaule Neuchâteloise


4 cups white flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel
3 tablespoons water mixed with 1 tablespoon flax meal
1 cup rice or soy milk
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
1 tablespoon rum
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup candied lemon peel
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, yeast and fresh lemon peel. Set aside.

2. Separately, mix together the milk substitute, water, margarine and rum. 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. Then, add the flax meal mixture to the dry ingredients along with the warmed liquid ingredients. Stir together to form dough. Knead for about 10 minutes, gradually adding in the remaining 1 cup of flour. During about the last 2 minutes of kneading, add the raisins and candied lemon peel, and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.


4. Place in a covered bowl. Let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.

5. Punch down the dough and divide into 2 pieces. Gently press each piece of dough into a rectangle shape, roll the dough into a cylinder, and tuck under the edges. Place into 2 pans (about 20 cm or 8.5 by 4 inches), greased and/or lined with parchment paper. Let the dough rise again for about 30 minutes. Note: You could also make two free-form loaves without pans, if you don’t have the exact pan size.

6. Separate an egg and brush the yolk on the bread. Use kitchen shears or scissors to make alternating horizontal cuts in the dough.


7. Bake at 180°C/350°F for 30 to 35 minutes. If necessary, cover with aluminum foil during the last 5-10 minutes to prevent the crust from getting too brown.


I look forward to sharing another bread recipe soon. However, I’m not sure I can keep up the once-a-week bread recipe pace. We ate a lot of bread cette semaine! How do the Swiss do it?! Bon week-end!