Vinschgerl Recipe – South Tyrolean Flatbreads

 

Vinschgerl (also sometimes Vintschgerl) are rustic palm-sized flatbreads which originate in South Tyrol. Blue fenugreek (Brotklee, Schabziger Klee, trigonella caerulea) adds a very distinctive, slightly spicy flavour to these delicious breads and the flat shape ensures that there is a lot of surface for the strong crust to form.

Vinschgerl - Rustic, aromatic flatbreads.
Vinschgerl – Rustic, aromatic flatbreads. Great to serve with a charcuterie board!

Vinschgerl Recipe

Ingredients – Makes 12 Vinschgerl

  • 400g fine rye flour
  • 200g wholewheat flour
  • 15g of rye sourdough
  • 1½ tsp of salt
  • 1 package of dried yeast (7g)
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • ½ tsp blue fenugreek
  • 350g water, lukewarm
  • 200g natural yoghurt (not straight from fridge)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed with pestle and mortar
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed with pestle and mortar

How to make Vinschgerl

  1. Mix the wet ingredients (water, honey, yoghurt) in a small bowl.
  2. In a large bowl mix the flours, sourdough extract, yeast, salt, blue fenugreek and the crushed seeds together.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to form the dough (using your hands for this will be easiest). The dough should be quite soft and gooey due to the high rye content. Add some more water if necessary but don’t add any more flour.
  4. Leave to rise in a warm place for up to 6 hours. The dough will have a less sticky, ‘cleaner’ consistency after this long rest and you will be able to shape it into a rectangle (approx. 2 cm high) on a clean work surface. If it’s still too soft, just shape it into a rectangle with wettish hands.
  5. Take a knife to divide the dough into 12 smaller rectangular pieces.
  6. Put the pieces onto two separate pieces of baking parchment (6 each). Place two pieces each right next to each other – this is the traditional way of baking them.
  7. Carefully dust or rub the surface of the dough pieces with a little rye flour, then cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. (This will make the delicious cracks in your Vinschgerl more visible.)
  8. Leave to rise in a warm place for another 1 – 2  hours.
  9. ½ hour before baking – preheat the oven to 220°C (Gas 6).
  10. Bake for 35 minutes.
  11. Cool on a wire rack.
A pair of Vinschgerl, baked in the traditional way.
A pair of Vinschgerl, baked in the traditional way.

Also try this rye flatbread recipe for South Tyrolean Schüttelbrot.

Walnut bread recipe in four variations

 

Having been home in Austria for Christmas, I brought back a big pack of shelled walnuts from the trees in my parents’ garden. A good time to experiment with walnut bread! Try my walnut bread recipe below – a sourdough walnut loaf using white wheat and wholegrain rye flour.

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My walnut bread is a slightly sweet bread and as such makes a great accompaniment to cheese boards with grapes, apricots or figs.

Walnut Bread Recipe – In Four Variations

Walnuts are super versatile and can be incorporated into bread in various different ways. Although the main walnut bread recipe remains the same, have a look through the walnut preparation options below to pick your favourite before starting.

Walnut bread
Walnut bread

Ingredients

Sourdough

  • 50g rye sourdough starter
  • 100g wholegrain rye flour
  • 100g water

Main dough

  • 350g strong white flour
  • 50g wholegrain rye flour
  • 8g salt
  • 190g water, lukewarm, if using the walnut paste (described below) OR
    260g water, lukewarm, for the other variations (as below)
  • 1 tbsp walnut oil (optional)
  • 200g walnuts in either of the below variations (e.g. 100g lightly crushed walnuts, 100g walnut paste or 200g caramelised walnuts). Lightly crushing your walnut halves with a rolling pin makes it easier for the oils to be released into the dough.

Four different ways of preparing the walnuts –

Caramelised walnuts
Finely chop fresh rosemary leaves, you need 1 tbsp. Dry-roast 200g walnuts in a frying pan (i.e. without any oil). Add the finely chopped rosemary and 2 tbsp of honey and caramelise the walnuts. Be careful not to burn them. Let them cool on a plate.

Mixed nuts with rum
From the book Rustikale Brote aus deutschen Landen by Gerhard Kellner.
For this recipe, you need 100g of walnut halves, lightly crushed, as well as 100g hazelnuts.
Dry-roast the hazelnuts in a frying pan (no oil). Pour over 35ml of lukewarm water once finished roasting. In a separate pan, dry-roast the walnuts and cover with 3 tbsp of rum.
Leave to soak overnight and drain any excess liquid.

Walnuts soaked in milk
Heat some milk until boiling – you’ll need enough to cover 200g walnuts in a small bowl. Cover the walnuts with boiling milk and leave to cool.
Once cooled, drain any excess liquid.

Walnut paste
As per Dan Lepard’s book ‘The Handmade Loaf’.
Make 100g walnut paste and also add 100g of halved or crushed walnuts into your final dough.
For the paste, you need 50g of walnuts, 50g of water, 2 tbsp of honey, 20g melted butter (lightly browned) and a pinch of salt.
Place all ingredients into the bowl of your hand blender and blend until you have a soft, smooth paste.

How to make walnut bread

Day 1

  1. Combine the sourdough ingredients in a medium bowl, cover and leave to rest at room temperature for 16 to 24 hours.

Day 2

    1. Combine 200g of sourdough (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake) with the main dough ingredients and walnut paste if using, but don’t add the whole walnuts at this point.
    2. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. 
    3. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly floured bowl, cover and keep at room temperature for an hour or so. The dough should have visibly expanded during this time.
    4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
    5. Use your fingers to flatten the dough and sprinkle the (lightly crushed, caramelised or soaked) walnuts over the surface.
    6. Work the dough to distribute the nuts evenly.
    7. Shape the dough into a round and place into a pre-floured proofing basket.
    8. Leave to rise for several hours at room temperature until fully proofed.
    9. Preheat the oven to 200°C and preheat your La Cloche baking dome at the same time (from cold) if using.

Transfer the bread from proofing basket to the La Cloche plate or onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.

  1. With a sharp knife, make a few criss-cross cuts into the loaves just before baking.
  2. Bake for about 50 minutes. Take the La Cloche lid off for the last 10 minutes if using.
  3. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

I love baking with walnuts. If you’d like to try a different walnut bread recipe, take a look at these posts also: