Source: Vintage: Our friend’s father-“Ferdi” (Master Baker in Switzerland) cir. 1960’s
Latschi a la Ferde is simply a great vintage recipe worth preserving. When one hears about their husband’s memory of this lovely baked treat, I could only insist my husband somehow get this recipe from his friend’s father. Not only did he get the recipe, but he also got the instructions from the retired baker. One more reason why Switzerland goes down in my book as the top place to live in the world, because you can actually get a childhood recipe from a retired baker. Not too many places in the world work this way, but Switzerland does.
The dough for latschi a la Ferdi recipe is very soft and pliable, and the outcome is just amazing. Trying to describe the Latschi: Somewhere between a soft bread and a pastry. I think the powder sugar sprinkled on top tricks me into thinking it’s a pastry-but don’t be fooled, it’s actually a bread!
What makes latschi a la Ferdi so special is not only the ingredients, but the special steps in the braiding process. Both unique to it’s level of sacredness and region, that being the lovely Rheintal in Switzerland, this little treat was not found in every bakery in the area. No, just one very special little bakery in Widnau. Sadly, when a baker closes his shop, he closes up his recipes too. This little delight is not to be forgotten. Latschi is a perfect treat for any Sunday brunch, or perhaps a special Easter Sunday meal. Absolutely memorable in taste and appearance. So, Ferdi, this is my tribute to you and your years of hard work. Making people in the town of Widnau and hopefully in little pockets throughout the world, remember you and your creation forever.
A few things to remember…
In dealing with this delicate dough, the yeast is important. I would recommend priming the yeast with a few Tbs. of tepid water before you add it; you probably need to add quite a few more scoops of flour to the recipe than it calls for-just add until the dough is no longer sticky and becomes a nice soft dough which is not sticking to your fingers.
Kneed this dough into a nice soft ball and cover to rise. The longer you let it rise, I think the better. The first time we made this dough in the late afternoon and let it rise overnight. The next batch, I made in the morning and we let rise 8 hours or so.
Also, play around with your string size; we worked w/ two sizes, a thinner string which of course gave us smaller Latschi, or a thicker (yet still 12″) string, which gave us a larger Latschi.
Finally, when baking, you will bake until it just turns golden. Monitor these babies close-they seem delicate and can quickly over-cook.
Latschi a la Ferdi
- 40 gr fresh yeast
- 20 gr salt
- 100 gr sugar
- 100 gr butter
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 L milk lukewarm
- 900 gr white flour
- Heat butter on low heat until melted, then add the milk to the warm butter mix, thus giving you a lukewarm temperature.
- Mix all ingredients in order and then kneed it for 3 – 4 minutes, or until dough is nice, soft and warm from kneading. Let it sit for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight (but covered)
- Cut away a 2 inch piece and roll the dough out about a 1/2 inch in diameter and roughly 12 inches long.
- Let the prepared dough sit for another 30min. (it usually takes you about 15 min. or so to prepare the ropes ahead of the assembly of the Latschi, so once you are finished, you do not have to let the ropes rise longer if you wish not to)
- Begin to form the braid by starting with 2 ropes (same length)
- cross them, always the same way(it makes it easier)
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- Pick up the Latschi and fold both ends under to form a bit of a “ball”, then place on a lined cookie sheet. I found I was able to get 9 per cookie sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF and let it bake for 12 – 15 min. After the Latschi are cooled of, use power sugar lightly. Enjoy.