The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My first (kinda sorry attempt) of Swiss "St. Gallerbuerli"

bread basket's picture
bread basket

My first (kinda sorry attempt) of Swiss "St. Gallerbuerli"

Got this recipe a couple of days ago direct from Switzerland: St. Gallen is a town in the east of Switzerland and one of their specialities besides St. Galler Bratwurst is the St. Galler Buerli. There are only a few bakeries which makes them " right"! In an article I read it says it actually an art. I was borne and raised in the area of St. Gallen (Appenzellerland) so I am familiar with this Buerli, know what it should look, feel and taste.

Tthe recipe calls for "halfwhite flour" which I did not have. It is also a  wet dough (84.5% hydration). In oder not to get tangled up in this really sticky mess, I learned to work with the bench knife. At first I did not pay attention that the recipe is talking about fresh yeast, so I put 7gr of instant yeast in the preferment. When I made the final dough I realized the recipe calls for 17 gr. of fresh yeast all together so I put in another 3 gr. of instant yeast .

In my exitment I forgott to preheat my oven, so the little dough slaks had to stay another 20 min on my counter. Also my oven goes only to 470F, the buerli should be baked at 482F................

After all those downfalls the little sorry Buerli taste pretty good, they don't look like they should and don't taste exactly like  they should (I think, may be close). Will do another try and mix some WW in my AP. Will let you know. Feedback is appreciated.

Heinz's picture

Let me know the exact recipe when you get them "right" I would love to bake me some.

bread basket's picture
bread basket

Heinz, here is the recipe I got:
200 gr. Water
15gr yeast, fresh
260 gr Halbweissmehl(flour)

Let ferment over night or at least for 3 hours

400gr. water
450 gr. flour
1 Tbsp Salt
1 pinch sugar
20gr. yeast,fresh

mix dough very intensiv till it loosens from bowl or hands. Ferment for 90 min during wich you "pull it up 3 or 4 times" Do this in the bowl.
Last "pull up" (S&F) on the bench. Use your bench knife to cut off 6 to 12 pieces and set them in a pair on your sheet pan. Bake at 482F for 20 to 30 min, 10 min with steam.

Good luck. What ever they look they taste great! For the american palate may be a little bit salty so you might adjust on that some.


Heinz's picture

Thanks for the recipe and advice. I'm used to instant yeast, so I will have to experiment a little. What is the best way to combine the preferment with the second mix?

bread basket's picture
bread basket

Heinz , put the water, yeast and salt first in the preferment and mix well, then add the flour. Was thinking today: if Ruchmehl has bran in it it will absorb more water. That means that the dough should be less wet than with just AP. I will mix some WW in next time . The dough has to be very wet but the pieces shouldn't just flatten out I think. Let me know with what you came up with.

Heinz's picture

Thanks for the reply. I will let you know how they come out. I really like St. Galler Bürli. I usually buy some at ZRH airport before barding my flight to the US. I'm excited to actually bake some myself - my luck that I saw your post!


Chuck's picture

At first I did not pay attention that the recipe is talking about fresh yeast, so I put 7gr of instant yeast in the preferment. When I made the final dough I realized the recipe calls for 17 gr. of fresh yeast all together so I put in another 3 gr. of instant yeast .

Substituting active-dry/instant yeast for fresh/cake yeast shouldn't be too much of an issue in most cases. What problems may arise will probably be in mixing; sometimes it's pretty hard to distribute and mix in dry yeast granules the same way you'd mix in wet yeast paste, possibly requiring a change in your procedure. Other than that, it shouldn't matter a whole lot.

What matters more is the amount. The conversion by weight of fresh/cake to active-dry/instant yeast is very roughly 1/4, so if the recipe called for 17 grams of fresh/cake my calculations suggest you should have used a total of only about 4 grams of instant yeast.

(It's quite common for there to be some yeast in the pre-ferment and some more yeast in the main dough, so that's no surprise.)


hanseata's picture

Barbara, for a first trial of this recipe this isn't bad at all. You always learn from what didn't go quite right. But if it tastes already pretty good, you feel encouraged to try it again - as I did, many times.

Liebe Grüsse,



bread basket's picture
bread basket

Will give it a try with some WW  or even some rye mixed with the AP. Will also play with the hydration a bit. It is VERY humid right now in NC so I think that will affect the dough as well. Will sure bring some Ruchmehl back from my next visit to Switzerland.

breads and gaden's picture
breads and gaden

Thank you for the recipe. I will try very soon.

Every time we go back to Switzerland where my fiance is from, we bring back a  suitecase full of breads.

I'm serious. One suitcase is full of breads - a lot of laugenbrotli and zopf (f we fly back in weekend), and again, a lot of Burli! 

Whey they taste sooooo good? I guess it's the flour?May be next time I should fly back with sacks of Halbweissmehl!!

Halbweissmehl is just so difficult to reproduce in the US. It's quite white, not much of "speckles" of whole wheat flour but have so much more depth than AP flour. While, adding WW and rye to AP flour is the best way to go as you suggested, the added flour particles inhibit gluten's structure. So hard to make this high-hydration bread  to come out right :(

Love love love Burli. Was excited to see this post





ian martin's picture
ian martin

Hi Heinz 

I am looking to try and recreate this wonderful bread 

I know its last years story but how did you go with the suggestions 

I actually made this bread 32yrs ago (so I have forgotten!) in St Georgen as an apprentice from the UK

I remember being amazed at how much water was in the dough 

the technique for folding the dough pieces is very important 

the baking is also - I remember a very dark bake 

does anyone have pictures of the folding technique?

Ian (Melbourne, Australia)

Heinz's picture


I tried to make them 4 times and they never came out right. I gave up!  The problem might be the flour.  I cannot get "Ruchmehl" in the US.  It's a pitty.  On a positive note, I will be in St. Gallen later this month and plan to eat plenty of Bürli while I'm there.




thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

A friend ships them frozen from St. Gallen for the holidays.

I'm told the 'secret' is very high, very humid heat. (425 stands out in my memory, which isn't very high, but 425 could be in C = 800 F).

I don't know the flour composition, but it's part whole wheat flour (and/or part dark rye)–I'd guess 20%. (Just checked Ruchmehl and found "dark, brownish wheat flour". That fits my experience, but it can't be 100% Ruchmehl).

 (Also, am convinced these have to be baked like "rolls", very close together).


Not be be confused with St. Galler Biberle Christmas cookies.

bread basket's picture
bread basket

Hi, this was my 2. attempt: I think they came out pretty close  to what you can buy in Switzerland. The people in my swiss club gabled them up so fast I could not even try one :-). It is now nearly a year since I made them. I remember using a dough scraper and a bench knife. Just pull the edge of the dough up and fold it in. turn the bowl as you go. Use lots of flour!! In this mix I used 300gr AP, 75gr WW and 75gr light Rye and 3/4 Tbsp of salt. I baked at 450F, 10min with steam.

For Christmas my daughter brought some Ruchmehl from Switzerland: It is soooooooooo good! according to the description on the bag it conains 10% of the Randschicht, 90% of the Mehlkoerper and 0% of the Weizenkeim. Lately I looked up First Clear flour and thought this could be pretty close, the difference : the first clear contains some germ. Have not seen or used first clear yet but have used Ruchmehl in Greenstein's Rye and it came out pretty good. I still have some Ruchmehl left and I am on my way to bake some more Buerli for our swiss club.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I remember them being darker (but that could because of the re-bake (we'd get them frozen and bake them again)) and more square-shaped.

But those are really close!

Nice work.

Are they traditionally baked as a pair? For some reason, I remember then being more like a cluster of squarish rolls: (They look like yours, but baked like this, as a cluster).


The "0% of the Weizenkeim" (wheat germ) made me laugh.

I remember dark specs throughout, so it was something if not wheat germ.

Interesting that they point out the 0%. It's almost like they're saying "We use first clear flour!"

ian martin's picture
ian martin

I have the Swiss Bakery book somewhere? and in it are all the regional breads including Burli bread

they are expensive but good source of information 

I also remeber 2 or 3 knock backs during bulk fermentation 


BloomingNutria's picture


Those sound really wonderful, and I would love to make some. What final recipe did you come up with? I only ask because in your first post, you said the recipe called for 17 grams of fresh yeast altogether, but in the recipe you gave, it looks like you wrote 15 grams in the first addition and 20 grams in the second, which would make 35 grams total. Would you mind clarifying?


bread basket's picture
bread basket

Hi, the yeast mentioned in the 1. recipe is fresh yeast which is often used in Switzerland. I use the Active Dry yeast and it works fine. I made another post: "one more time St. Galler Buerli". If you go there you will see how they should look.  I also had a original swiss flour (Ruchmehl) which I am sure helped. That was a pretty good bake :-).


200gr. water

5gr. yeast

260gr. AP

ferment over night or at least 3 hours

final dough:

400gr. water

450 gr. flour (I used 300grAP, 75gr WW and 75gr. light rye. Made a somewhat authentic taste)

16gr salt

1pinch sugar (not sure if this is needed. My last ones did not have sugar)

7gr. yeast

mix the dough 10 min, 30 min autolyze, fold in the bowl 4x every 20 min. fold one more time on the table, cut of pieces , round them and put them  in pairs on the sheet. Use lot's of flour because the dough is very wet. Preheat 500F and bake @ 475F for about 30min. 10 min with steam, turn after 20min.  Happy baking!