Part of the reason I love staying at the vacation properties managed by the Stiftung Ferien im Baudenkmal is the opportunity to discover regional Swiss foods.
Text: Heddi Nieuwsma, Pictures: Dorian Rollin
In the heart of the old city center of Biel / Bienne, the Du Bourg apartment is privately owned, but managed by the Stiftung Ferien im Baudenkmal. Built in the 16th century, the Maison Du Bourg received its Baroque facade during its reconstruction in 1720. Nearly three centuries later, its current owners renovated the property in 2018. Throughout the apartment, you’ll find furnishings of the highest quality, carefully positioned to highlight the architectural features of the building.
These historic properties allow you to cook with special ingredients that you may not always be able to find in other parts of Switzerland. One ingredient that I always look for, given my particular interest in Swiss bread, is flour. Chestnut, corn, rye, wheat and more – you can find different types from different mills, depending on where you are.
One of the breads I bake in the apartment during my stay is the Agatha-Brötli, that comes from the Sense-Oberland region of Fribourg. This tasty little pretzel-shaped bread is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. It would be a great bread to bake during your stay at one of these historic properties. You can eat it warm from the oven or pack it along for a snack as you explore during the day.
Makes 10 little breads.
500 g white flour
75 g butter, softened
2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
20 g fresh yeast, crumbled (or 7 g dry yeast)
300 ml milk, lukewarm
1 egg, beaten
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the softened butter, in pieces. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Set aside.
2. Separately, add the yeast to the lukewarm milk. Let it rest for a few minutes and then whisk together until the yeast has fully dissolved.
3. Pour the milk and yeast into the center of the large bowl. Stir until a dough forms.
4. Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes, or use an electric mixer and a dough hook, until it becomes smooth and elastic. When you press the dough and make an indentation with your finger, it should bounce back.
5. Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for about 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
6. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions. Roll each of the pieces into cylinders about 45–50 cm (18–20 inches) in length and then form them into a classic pretzel shape.
7. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover them. Let them rest for about 30 minutes.
8. Apply a thin coating of the beaten egg to the surface of the little breads.
9. Bake for about 20–25 minutes in an oven preheated to 200ºC/400ºF, until they become a light golden brown.
Heddi Nieuwsma is an American living in Western Switzerland who enjoys learning about Swiss food. Through her blog, Cuisine Helvetica, she shares recipes and information about Swiss regional foods, as well as culinary events and travel. In October 2020, Helvetiq published her first book, Swiss Bread (in English, French and German), with 42 recipes and stories from different regions of Switzerland.
Click here to order Heddi’s Book «Swiss Bread», with more than 40 delicious bread recipes from around the country and some of the stories behind them.