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Cantonal breads

Zurich

Zurich

Bread is traditionally a very local affair in Switzerland. The shapes and styles depend partly on taste, partly on tradition and partly on local conditions dictating the type of cereal than can be grown. Swiss Germans tend to prefer their bread darker and saltier than their French and Italian speaking neighbours, for example. But many local breads have now spilled far beyond their original regions and can be found anywhere in the country.

Since the middle of the 19th century, when Switzerland became the federal state it is today, each canton has been associated with a particular style of loaf. The best known is the Zurich loaf, which is oval with a golden-brown crust, and a series of slashes across the top. This one is so widely sold that it is regarded as standard. But other cantons have adopted very different styles. Here are just a few:

Graubünden

Graubünden

Graubünden

A ring-shaped bread, known locally as Brascidela or Bracciadella, made of a mixture of rye and wheat flour. There's a good reason for the shape: it made them easier to hang up. Traditionally the loaves were left under the eaves to dry for days or even weeks, and were then edible for months to come.

Jura

Jura

Jura

A flat, round loaf of a type popular throughout the French-speaking cantons, this one is decorated with the symbols of the flag of Switzerland's youngest canton: a bishop's crozier in one half and stripes in the other.

Ticino

Ticino

Ticino

A loaf made up of a number of small loaves put together, each one of which can be easily broken off. This is because it is regarded as an insult to bread and to baker to use a knife. The dough is made of white flour and also contains vegetable oil.

Valais

Valais

Valais

A flattish, round rye loaf, with a cracked crust and dense texture and a pronounced flavour. Rye is the only cereal suited to the cold, dry valleys of the canton.

Vaud

Vaud

Vaud

A roundish bread, divided into four by a cross decoration on the crust. The loaf could be broken easily into four pieces and handed out to the poor.

Zug

Zug

Appenzell

Appenzell© all: schweizerbrot

Zug

A long loaf, with one end turned up on itself to form what its bakers call a "head".  It is very similar to the cantonal bread of neighbouring Schwyz.

The "head" must not be confused with the "nose" of the typical loaves of St Gallen, Appenzell and Thurgau, where the dough is slashed before baking, producing a hump where it has been cut.