Swiss Sourdough Bread Rolls (Bürli)
Baked, Book Reviews, Bread, Vegetarian

Swiss Sourdough Bread Rolls (‘Bürli’)

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Today, it’s once again time to review a recipe from the book “Hand Made Small Breads” by Robert from Fabolous Fricot. Swiss sourdough bread rolls, called Bürli by the locals, are a real treat. I think they are more delicious than French baguettes. The best way to enjoy them is with a fried bratwurst. Yummy!

To say it upfront, I added bread improver to these rolls. Robert had asked me to review the recipe with bread improver in it to see if it has any effect. I think it doesn’t make a big difference. You can omit it if you work with strong flour. I think the struggle with the original recipe is that the hydration is on the low side. Next time I make these, I won’t use bread improver and rely on my flour. Bread improver is essential for bread rolls with an even crumb and thin crispy crust but not for these baguette-like bread rolls.

Here’s the original recipe from the book:

Original recipe for swiss sourdough bread rolls (Bürli)

The changes I made are:

  • I used a sourdough starter instead of yeast for the pre-ferment.
  • I decreased the amount of yeast in the main dough.
  • I increased the hydration from 58 to 75 %.
  • I used German half-white flour (type 812) instead of a combination of white and dark wheat flour.
  • I altered the bulk fermentation and proofing time.

Ok, that might seem like a lot of changes. But trust me it is for the best. The basic dough is still the same. I never follow recipes exactly and the bread almost always comes out well. These sourdough bread rolls from the modified recipe were amazing!

A visual guide to Swiss sourdough bread rolls

I decreased the fermentation time for my sourdough. About 12-16 hours is enough. 18 hours seemed a bit excessive. Your sourdough is ready once it bubbles and smells a bit sour. If you like a mild flavor, ferment the sourdough for no more than 12 hours. The longer you leave it to sit, the stronger the flavor. As you can see in the picture below, my sourdough looked healthy and happy.

Ripe Sourdough with air bubbles

A word of warning: the dough is sticky. Don’t be surprised. It will stick to the bowl. If you feel uncomfortable working with very soft and sticky doughs, then you can decrease the amount of water added a little.

Kneaded dough sticking to the bowl

Very important: The dough must pass the windowpane test after kneading!

Windowpane test on dough

After a few stretches and folds, you will see that the dough gains strength and structure.

Dough strengthening during bulk fermentation

Divide the dough without deflating it into four even pieces. Make sure your work surface is generously floured to prevent the dough from sticking but don’t work the flour into the sourdough bread rolls. The flour should only be on the surface.

Dividing the dough into four bread rolls

Don’t apply any pressure when shaping the bread rolls. Twisting them a few times with your hands is enough!

Shaped bread rolls

And now, look at that oven spring. Beautiful!

Sourdough bread rolls in the oven
Swiss sourdough bread rolls fully baked

In the picture below, you can see how loosely I shaped the bread rolls. The bottom of the bread rolls is not sealed perfectly. I didn’t apply any pressure while shaping the bread rolls.

Crackling crust of the bread rolls

And lastly, look at that beautiful open crumb! It’s like a baguette or ciabatta. And look how thick the crust is. Ultra crispy and rustic. For a bread that contains 10 % rye, this wild and uneven crumb is phenomenal!

Crumb of swiss sourdough bread rolls (Bürli)

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