The annual return of the carnival season goes hand in hand with the buttery smell of Basler Fastenwähe.
That's because marching bands and costume tailors are not the only ones keeping busy in early January. Bakeries in the Basel area are equally occupied with the Basler Fastenwähe.
Despite the popularity of this carnival dish, not much is known about the history of Basler Fastenwähe. Except for an anecdote from the 17th century which states that this yeasty flatbread is only supposed to be baked on Sundays between Three Kings Day and carnival, or else...
During the designated season, which extends from the middle of January through Easter, you can find Basler Fastenwähe in almost every Basel-area bakery. Even larger grocers have started carrying them in recent years. During the three days of carnival, it is a staple food next to Basler Mehlsuppe flour soup, and the Basler Zwiebelwähe onion quiche.
By merely looking at it, you could mistake Basler Fastenwähe for a pretzel. But once you have tried this delicious and slightly chewy flatbread sprinkled with lots of cumin seeds, you will always remember its distinctive taste!
If you happen to live nowhere near Basel, take a stab at this easy Basler Fastenwähe recipe!
Basler Fastenwähe Recipe
Makes 10 flatbreads
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Rising time: 1.5 - 2.5 hours
Baking time: 15 - 20 minutes
Ingredients for the dough:
Ingredients for the glaze:
1. Mix the yeast and sugar in a cup.
2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, then add the yeast.
3. Heat the milk to a lukewarm temperature and add butter. Stir to melt the butter completely.
4. Blend the melted butter and milk into the large bowl and knead it until it no longer sticks to your fingers.
5. Remove the dough onto a flat surface and knead it for another 5 minutes.
6. Let the dough rest and double in size in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel.
7. Separate the dough into pieces and use a rolling pin to form oval shapes about 15 cm long.
8. Use a knife to cut four slits into each piece, carefully stretch and place the patties on a baking sheet. Let them rest for another 30 - 60 minutes.
You're almost done...
9. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
10. Mix the yolk and water to glaze your patties, then sprinkle cumin seeds all over them.
11. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.
Congrats! You have just created a batch of delicious Basler Fastenwähen!
Now, get acquainted with even more Swiss winter foods:
- 7 Swiss winter drinks you need to try
- Clever Swiss cheese recipes
- Fondue chinoise in Switzerland helps me survive winters
- Roasted chestnuts in Switzerland are my winter obsession
- Our baking recipe for the traditional Three Kings Cake
- Swiss Christmas cookie recipes with air time
- Mailänderli recipe with step-by-step instructions
- Recipe for “Spitzbuebe” Swiss Christmas cookies
- 5 Swiss cookies you’ve (probably) never baked
Made an egg/dairy-free version yesterday, and my boys loved it. Should have used more cumin seeds, and the result wasn’t super chewy, so I’ll have to try again soon. BTW, about how many pieces should this recipe make? I think mine were maybe too large. Wish I could use an egg — it creates such a nice shine. Thanks again for the recipe!
Thank you for the feedback, Heddi! I made four (large) Fastenwähen using this recipe, although I could have probably made six smaller ones…
Faschewäie are delicious. But they are never really chewy…
[…] It would seem as if the Three Kings Cake had an ancient history, similar to the Basler Fastenwähe. […]