ye olde bread blogge

bread, coffee and tidbits

Using dried sourdough to bake Swiss bread

with 9 comments

Switzerland has a rich bread culture. Huge rounds of “Bauernbrot”, made with a dark wheat flour, the “Halbweissmehl” (“half-white-flour” literally), are eaten throughout the country. So are smaller grain-studded loaves and white fluffy rolls in many variations. When reading about Swiss bread production, one ingredient stands out frequently: “Levit”. It is a powder based on dried sourdough. Dextrose and traces of milk-fermentation by-products are in it as well.

I have used dried sourdough before, and making it is simple: Prepare a white sourdough starter with a hydration of about 100%. You do not have to let it come to full maturity, since it takes 3-4 days to dry. Spread it thinly on a sheet of baking paper and let rest uncovered in a clean place for about 3-4 days. Do not worry, it will not catch a lot of dust or misguided insects, since the surface will dry out quickly. Crumble it together in your hand and grind it in a coffee grinder. Add to yeasted bread doughs in small amounts of 2-3%.

This reipce is from Tessin, a Swiss canton that lies rather nested inside but not in North-Italy. (I shamefully admit, that I used to call Tessin the Italy for beginners.)

Tessiner Brot (1 loaf)

  • 330g strong white flour, ideally Swiss Halbweissmehl*(100%)
  • 200g water (61%)
  • 12g fresh yeast (3.6%)
  • 8g dried sourdough (2.4%)
  • 3g malt powder (1%)
  • 6g salt (1.8%)
  • 15g vegetable oil (4.5%)

– Prepare the dough, adding the oil at the end of mixing. A smooth and silky consistency is desired, the dough being soft but not wet.
– Bulk Fermentation: 40 minutes. Ideal dough temperature: 22°C
– Divide into six rolls and put them on a floured towel next to each other.
– Final Fermentation: 35-45 minutes in a warm spot, i.e. 22°C
– Invert loaf onto baking paper and slash with a razor blade straight along the length of the loaf
Bake at 240°C for 20 minutes with a little steamed water, then reduce heat to 220°C and bake for further 15 minutes.

Source: Petras Brotkasten

* I used German Type 550 flour

Notice the large quantity of yeast. I think dried sourdough greatly improved the result. Advantages, that were apparent:

  • Dough has increased stability, judging by how robust and springy it feels during handling
  • Crumb is soft, regular and fluffy
  • Color of the crust is an attractice reddish brown
  • Flavor of bread is light but not dull or yeasty
  • Bread has an “easy-going eating quality” (I don’t know what that means, but it sums up the eating experience for me)

Delicious, taking into account that proving times are short. Note to myself: Should I feel pressed to make a quick bread with a soft, fluffy and regular crumb, dried sourdough should not be missing from the dough.

Written by theinversecook

2 September 2007 at 19:03

9 Responses

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  1. You have many very beautiful breads here on your blog, as well as some interesting scientific/technical information. I’m happy to have discovered you! Will you consider adding an “About” page so we may know more about you?


    10 September 2007 at 00:21

  2. @Susan: Thanks a lot, Susan. My About ( ) is a bit thin, I agree. Will update it shortly. Hope it’s ok if I add your excellent blog to my blogroll.

    Regards, Nils.


    11 September 2007 at 21:05

  3. Habe gerade eben deinen Blog entdeckt – und eben gesehen, dass du das Tessiner Brot gebacken hast :-) Sieht super aus!

    Petra aka Cascabel

    25 September 2007 at 11:36

  4. @ Petra: Danke! Ich habe mir auch redliche Mühe gegeben, das irgendwie so appetitlich hinzukriegen, wie ich es bei Dir gesehen habe. Meins ist vielleicht etwas dunkler geworden, vielleicht die rustikale Version… Ich finde den Effekt von getrocknetem Sauerteig recht erstaunlich, auch wenn das Brot vielleicht keinen echten Sauerteiggeschmack hat.



    25 September 2007 at 13:02

  5. Where are all the other breads you had with formulas from the previous site???


    25 September 2007 at 19:19

  6. @ Jeremy: The old page is still there: Archives.



    25 September 2007 at 22:24

  7. Ist dir gut gelungen. Ein bisschen zu dunkel. ;-)Das “echte” Tessinerbrot hat keinen Sauerteiggeschmack. Das Tessinerli erinnert mich immer an meine Grossmutter, die hatte immer welches im Haus.


    26 September 2007 at 11:02

  8. @ zorra: In meinem Ofen scheint ein ziemlich heißer Wind über den Backstein in Richtung Backofentür zu fegen, der die Oberseite der Brote recht schnell austrocknet; oft bevor eine gute Kruste entstanden ist. Habe schon versucht, diese Luftströmung zu blockieren, war mir aber dann doch etwas zu brenzlig…



    26 September 2007 at 12:40

  9. I just bought some German Sourdough Powder out of curiosity. There is no instructions on how to use it as it was packed into generic pouch of the bakery supplies store. And that led me to do some searching on the net. Do you think the powder would work with your bread? Thanks. Mandy.

    Mandy Wong

    21 April 2014 at 16:58

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