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Birnbrot
Bündner Birnbrot.jpg
Alternative namesBirnweggen
TypePastry
Place of originSwitzerland
Main ingredientsDried fruit (pears, apples, figs), raisins, walnuts, candied fruit, coriander, cinnamon, star anise, anise, clove, alcohol
VariationsBündener Birnbrot, Glarner Birnbrot, Toggenburger Birnbrot, Luzerner Birnweggen

Birnbrot (literally pear bread) or Birnweggen (literally pear buns) are a traditional pastry originating in Switzerland with a filling of dried pears. They exist throughout Switzerland and popular variations include "Bündener Birnbrot" (from the Kanton Graubünden), "Glarner Birnbrot" (from the Kanton Glarus), "Toggenburger Birnbrot" (from Toggenburg (district) and "Luzerner Birnweggen" (from Luzern).

Description

Alongside dried pears the filling also contains raisins, walnuts and other dried fruit such as apples or figs. The filling is flavoured with candied fruit, coriander, cinnamon, star anise, anise, clove and some sort of alcohol.

Birnweggen
Birnweggen

The difference between "Birnbrot" and "Birnweggen" lies in the way of preparation and the geographical prevalence: Birnbrot is prepared by mixing the filling with dough and surrounding it with a casing of yeast dough while Birnweggen are made by spreading the filling on a sheet of yeast dough and rolling it like a roulade. Birnweggen are popular in Zentralschweiz and Birnbrot can be found in the Ostschweiz near the Alps

The variations of Toggenburg and Glarus cook and sear the pears before mixing it with the other ingredients. In Graubünden the pears are laid in pear brandy or rose water which gives a more distinguishable pear taste.

History

Originally it was a bread variation for peasants that lengthened the expensive wheat with dried fruit. In Graubünden, local variations can be found that feature a greater amount of bread dough and are not cased in yeast dough.

Nowadays it is a popular pastry around Christmas and New Year's Eve and there are some customs around it. For example, in Engadin girls give their favourite classmate a Birnbrot on 26 December and are in return invited to a sleigh ride. Despite that, it is available throughout the whole year in German-speaking Switzerland and is eaten with butter and recent cheese for tea or as a picnic for hikers or skiers.

References

See also