The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Lötschental Valley rye bread technique

twinkletoes2035's picture
twinkletoes2035

Lötschental Valley rye bread technique

Does anyone know anything about the bread that this Swiss culture made. A rye bread with a long fermentation? At least a couple of weeks fermentation. What technique they used. I know they sifted the bran and germ out of the flour and used 100% rye grain. It was supposedly a very healthy bread. Basically I'm looking for a technique for a long fermentation, 100% rye sourdough bread. Please answer in laymen's terms, I'm an amateur at this, but because of health reasons, I'm bound and determined to master this. I know rye isn't the easiest to work with. 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Stan Ginsberg, longtime FreshLoaf poster, has several books-the last one titled "The Rye Baker". He has a website of the same name and actively responds to posts and questions. The book is wonderful and the website has many recipes. I didn't find a recipe with that particular name but he has studied rye bread worldwide. He might know a similar recipe.

Rye bread has a learning curve but it is only difficult if you expect it to be like wheat. As a "newbie", you might be at an advantage as you have only the rye learning curve to deal with and don't have to worry about "unlearning" wheat based expectations. Having done both, I think rye is easier in many ways.

Bake some deliciousness!

andythebaker's picture
andythebaker

but a coworker was telling me about an old way to make german fermented gingerbread.  in august, heat up honey and treacle with flour, then let it sit until you mix your final dough in november or december.

https://www.wildfermentation.com/german-fermented-gingerbread-cookies/

not what you're looking for, but i thought it was neat.

~andrew

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

No one there bakes bread any longer! Once the equivalent of the Swiss Interstate came through the people started buying store-bought bread and the community oven went dormant. Seems there is no real recipe but that may be due to improper search terms. 

The reason I'm interested is that I've had a similar bread in a remote village in German Tyrol many years ago.

Wild-Yeast

Joyofgluten's picture
Joyofgluten

Lötschental is a very special place, it’s a steep sided valley with four or five small villages. There is no through road, it dead-ends in a circle of high mountains. It used to be a very isolated, so has a number of unique customs, but it shares a similar rye bread tradition  with the rest of canton Wallis. Rye was the only grain that they could bring to harvest in the high valleys: long harsh winters, short dry summers. From what I’ve read, communal milling and baking was practised in many of the cantons high side valleys. Bake days took place just 2 or 3 times per year, families drew lots to establish the baking sequence, they brought their own crop and firewood. The family that went first started out with a cold oven and bake-room so required more firewood, this was not the coveted draw. 

The rye was coarsely ground with a stone mill, more like rye-chops than flour. The doughs were leavened with sourdough, but had to be rushed along to accommodate the tight bakehouse schedule. This bread basically looks like a cow pie, the fermentation time may have been a little on the short side, but the post bake storage time was plenty long. 

In the village of Blatten, in the back end of Lötschental, there is still a communal bake-oven, it fell into a state of disrepair and was unused for about 30 years. Luckily a group of locals saw fit to rebuilt it, they organise a communal bake about three times each summer. A few years back, I happened to be there at bake time.

The Walliser Roggenbrot tradition is still very much alive, nowadays people prefer to eat it fresh though. The name is protected, bread that bears the name must be baked within the canton and must contain at least 90% rye, 10% wheat is allowed. The rye used is no longer grown high up in the side valleys but it’s still quite a healthy loaf: Rye chops, water, salt, SD or yeast (or hybrid). A variation with added walnuts is also widely available. 

 

I live in another part of Switzerland, this rye bread is not for sale here, so i have to bake my own. The formula I use follows a standard  Walliser Rye bread procedure:  

http://bunfiles.breadstorm.com/bunfiles/XXQW4P/H8S32L/

Here's an old achive film, it's a little rough around the edges but is a real gem, from a village close to Lötschental, it's believed to stem from 1970, the last year that the communal baking took place: http://podcasts.mediatheque.ch/films/2012/0007.mp4

cheers and happy baking

daniel

pul's picture
pul

Very interesting information. I have followed your blog for some time and always drop by. Besides the baking, i really like the section on historical photos:

http://joyofgluten.weebly.com/historic-photos.html

 

 

Joyofgluten's picture
Joyofgluten

Thank's for the encouragement Pul, I've been neglecting that blog for some time now, your kind words might just nudge me into active mode again.

thank's

pul's picture
pul

Please keep updating your blog. It is nice to have an idea about the bread scene in Switzerland, such as coming across the history you shared here. I love Swiss bread, it is the best I ever had, and you can find high quality loaves in every bakery. You can even find good bread out of supermarkets (Migros, Mannor, COOP). Yes, eating bread in Switzerland is always included in my to do list. A place that I like to go for finding different bread styles is the farmer's market that is usually held on Saturdays across towns. I have seem quite impressive bakes and styles when visiting those places.

Peter

andythebaker's picture
andythebaker

thanks for sharing

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Thank you Daniel. TFL members come through once again! 

Wild-Yeast

twinkletoes2035's picture
twinkletoes2035

Thank you everyone for all of your information. I really appreciate it!

I'm reading things like the following site that says that they sifted out all the bran and germ, and baked once a month. A more ancient recipe only had one communal baking a year, and the bread aged on the wall for the rest of the year.

http://tipsdiscover.com/health/rye-wheat-spelt-kamut-and-barley-to-remineralize-your-teeth/

Another site states that the bread went through a 2 week fermentation process.

https://realfoodforager.com/5-reasons-to-make-sourdough-your-only-bread/

This is fascinating stuff. My bread baking knowledge (or lack thereof) is still one of my weak points, but I'm having fun learning!