Source: Swiss Farmer’s Cookbook (cir. 1800’s)
Obwalden Anise Birds
These little delights are a wonderful bit of dough formed in the shape of a bird. The Obwalden Anise Birds are a bit of history hailing from the Kanton Obwalden, in Switzerland. One of the first Kanton’s named in Switzerland, the history of this little region in inner-Switzerland is deep with tradition and rich with nature and farm life. As we’ve learned, the Swiss farm woman plays a great role in the regional cuisine. This is an ideal recipe for any level of baking. It’s very easy, and the dough does most of the work for you in this recipe. You can see the technique in this little bird is also quite simple. Basically consisting of forming a long rope of dough, then tying it in a knot. The original version uses raising for the eyes, then painted with an egg mixture, it’s put in the oven to bake.
You wont be mistaken when you see the unique resemblance of this bread to a bird. It’s not hard to master this shape, but I don’t think I could have invented it on my own. I love the European techniques on baked goods here. They tend to be big on shape, and when you learn how to duplicate the shape, you realize how simple most of them really are.
I love making these rolls often, having them around in the bread box, it’s a little roll which can be used for sweet (butter and jelly) or savory (salami and mustard) treats, perfect for the after school hunger rage, also known as “Hangry”.
These rolls are soft, light, and the very faint flavor of anise is appreciated through and through.
Obwalden Anise Birds (bread)
- 500 gr flour white
- 1/4 TBS salt
- 1 TBS sugar
- 20 gr fresh yeast
- 2 dl milk
- 1 dl heavy cream
- 3/4 TBS anise seeds
- 2 TBS raisins
- 1 egg yolk for brushing
- Mix together the flour, salt and sugar.
- Dissolve the yeast in a bit of warm milk, then add the dissolved yeast to the remaining milk mixture.
- Add the cream, anise and raisins and kneed it together.
- Let the dough rise in a warm place until it’s twice the size. (about 30 to 60 minutes)
- Divide the dough in 8-10 equal balls. Roll out each ball to about 25 cm. long. Make a simple knot in each roll. If you’d like, form a beak and add wings if you’d like to enhance the bird look.
- Brush on the beaten egg yolk and let stand for 20 min.
- Bake birds for about 20 min., at 200°C Celsius.