Erm. Most Alsatians still know the Sübrot, minus the Melechweckla (milk bread). Both are gradually disappearing from our bakeries, but customers remain loyal to them. A sort of “Madeleine de Proust”. Discover the history and recipe of these breads.
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TO the Suhner bakery in Sélestat, a place is always reserved for the Sübrot (or Sülaiwli, or Süwecka, depending on the name given to it). About 60 are sold every day. Mainly to customers over the age of 50 who have always consumed this product, but also to young people who appreciate this “different” bread.
Frédéric Suhner, the owner and baker, wants to offer Sülaiwla daily (see recipe at the bottom of the page). For him it is one of the essential elements of an Alsatian bakery, like Bretzel, Kougelhopf and upwind flights. “An Alsatian baker, the real one, must have the Sübrot”he says.
It is also from this, among other things, that an artisan bakery is recognized, he believes: “Franchises used to buying ready-made baguettes and croissants cannot find frozen Süwecka.
The dough is that of a classic white bread. The originality of the Sülaiwli lies in its shape. “I find it lighter than a baguette. I don’t know if that’s really the case, but that’s how I feel. I still prefer it”explains Claire, a customer who buys Sübrot “Almost every day. I even bought some for Christmas. The saleswoman told me “also Sübrot for Christmas”! Yes, yes, always Subrot. When the bakery is closed, it annoys me because there are almost no more.”
Elizabeth, her left Alsace for the Vosges, but returns regularly, “especially to buy Sülaiwla. I always ate them as a child.”
They would have been invented in the 18th century for customers in the cities, eager for refined products. They then gradually reached the countryside and village festivals, during which they were eaten with junk and mustard. The interwar period thus marked their great era. Then it cost a penny, hence its name, Sübrot, “penny bread”.
Melechweckla, or milk loaves, have become even rarer. The many Viennese pastries now offered for sale stole the show. “They are almost sweets, with lots of cream, jam, chocolate… At the time, when I was a child, we only had Melechweckla, cinnamon crosses and Stàngaweckla (another brioche bread), nothing else”recalls Jean-Claude Iltis, the best worker baker in France.
He wants to perpetuate the recipe, which is rather poor in ingredients: very little sugar and butter, no eggs. Halfway between a white bread and a brioche. An Alsatian specialty found nowhere else: “In the rest of the In France, when they talk about pain au lait, they are actually referring to our brioche with four eggs and 250 grams of butter for one kilo of flour. While there the dough is much lighter”.
Melechweckla should be very soft and easy to store. Jean-Claude Iltis loves to savor them at any time of the day, both at breakfast with honey and jam and afterwards, spread with liver sausage or sausage. As children they received snacks at school, with a bar of chocolate. Each time, a small event.
The retired baker, member of UBAC (Union des Boulangers Artisans Créateurs) dreams of setting up a week of “forgotten products” in Alsace. Just to put Sülaiwli and Melechweckla back on display and, why not, give consumers a taste of the comeback.
- 1 kg of flour
- 18 g of salt
- 20 g of brewer’s yeast
- 600 g of water
- 100 g sourdough (or fermented dough).
Mix the ingredients, cover the dough and let it rest for 3 hours.
Divide the dough into two pieces of dough of the same weight. Roll out each of them with a roller to a thickness of 1.5-2 cm. They should be exactly the same size. Brush a little oil and flour on one of the noodles, then cover it with the other. (be careful not to put too much oil, otherwise the Sübrot will not open in the oven. The stickier the dough, the more oil should be added, and conversely, the less sticky the dough, the less oil should be added.) Give a small roll. Leave to rest for three quarters of an hour.
Cut the pasta into equal squares of about 150 grams (or slightly less). Glue two squares end to end to form a Sübrot. Cover and leave to rest for 1h30.
Bake for 25 minutes at 250 degrees.
Melechwechla (milk buns) recipe:
- 500 g of T55 flour
- 200 g of milk + 100 g of water
- 10 g of salt
- 20 g of sugar
- 50 g of butter
- 25 g of yeast
Mix all the ingredients until the dough comes away from the bottom of the bowl. Cover and let rest 30 to 45 minutes.
Weigh 70 g of dough pieces, form balls and place them on a baking tray or on parchment paper. Cover and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Lightly oil and flour the top of each ball. Score the center of the balls (be careful not to break them completely) using a pastry cutter or knife. Leave to rest for 30 to 45 minutes.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes at 220 degrees.
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