Source: Vintage: Our friend’s father-“Ferdi” (Master Baker/Owner in Switzerland) cir. 1960’s
Latschi a la Ferde is simply a great recipe to work with. The dough 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 this recipe so special is not only the ingredients, but the special steps in the braiding process. Both unique to it’s level of sacredness and regionalism from the region of Rheintal in Switzerland. Now that Ferdi’s bakery is closed (due to old age), the Latschi is gone with it. I want to make sure that this recipe stays alive. My husband managed to get the recipe out of the retired baker, and he even provided a tutorial for the braiding. So, Ferdi, this is my tribute to you and your years of hard work. Making people in the town of Widnau remember you 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)
- Check out the picture1
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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.