When eating in the Zeughauskeller in Zurich last week we were presented with a basket of rather tasty rolls.  They had a dark, almost burnt in places exterior which gave them a chewy and heavily flavoured crust that made me think they’d been cooked at a high temperature.  On the inside they had a reasonably open crumb (a wet dough?) whose texture, along with the chewy crust, suggested a long fermentation.  I decided I wanted to try and recreate them.

The more I thought about them the more I thought they had some form of sourdough in them, were made from a high water content dough and cooked at a high heat.  I didn’t have a recipe and no one in the house knew the name of them but a flash of inspiration from my Step Dad led us to the meal receipt in his wallet and their name – bürli.  Google returned a lone English language recipe but it confirmed by suspicions: start two days ahead making a little sourdough starter, add to it until you’ve got a 75% water content (i.e. wet) dough and cook them at the rather warm 240 C.

The sourdough is made using commercial yeast and only requires two days (it’s for flavouring rather than leavening the bread) so is a great starter if you’ve never played with sourdoughs before.  I altered the recipe I found to use dried yeast and also decided to knead it in a Dan Lepard style.  If you’re not aware of his methods he’s a fan of using liquid and time, rather than heavy kneading, to get the gluten in the dough developing.  Instead of ten minutes of sweat inducing kneading the dough is given a few short bursts of folding with a rest between each.  Using this method sticky wet dough becomes lovely and silky with little effort.

The resultant bread wasn’t exactly like that I’d eaten in the restaurant, the crust was thinner and the texture of the crumb not as open, but it was a very tasty roll nonetheless.  With that dark, chewy crust I think it lends itself to dunking in a soup but it ‘s also great eaten plain or filled for sandwiches.  In Switzerland it’s the type of thing you get with a bratwurst as fast food.  I’ll definitely be making them again.

Bürli, makes 8


25gr flour
50gr water
1/4 ts dried yeast taken from a 7gr sachet of dried yeast

Remaining Ingredients

375gr flour
250gr water
10gr salt
Remains of the 7gr sachet of dried yeast


Mix the sourdough ingredients, cover lightly and leave for 2 days.  It will bubble up and then probably separate, this is fine.

After two days add the 250gr water into the sourdough then add this to the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl, mixing into a sticky dough.  Cover and leave for 15 minutes.

Lightly oil your work surface and turn the wet dough out onto it.  Lightly fold it in half then turn and repeat maybe ten times before putting it back into the bowl and leaving for 15 minutes.  Repeat this two more times.

After the final 15 minute rest remove to a floured surface and cut into 8 equal pieces.  Shape these into spheres, flour well and place on a baking tray a couple of centimetres apart.  Push them down slightly into roll shapes.

Leave to prove for 45 – 60 mins, or until they’ve doubled or more in size.

Put in the middle of an preheated 240 C for 22 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool on a rack.



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