Our Culinary Tour de France
While we can’t make it to France to cheer the racers on in person, we’re cheering them on in spirit by joining together with a group of food bloggers to explore the cuisines of the regions they will be biking through.
Each talented blogger has made a dish that is representative of one of the regions on the race route. I picked Switzerland (Bern) and am sharing a recipe for Meitschibei (Swiss Hazelnut Horseshoe Pastries). Take a look at what everyone else chose!
North Western France/Normandy (Mont St Michel) – Chicken Normandy from Curious Cuisiniere
Loire Valley (Angers/Saumur) – Rillettes de Tours from The Petit Gourmet
South Western France/Midi-
Catalonia, Spain (Andorra) – Escalivada from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
AND Coca de Espinacas a la Catalana from Manu’s Menu
South France/Languedoc-Roussillon (Montpellier) – Tapenade from Caroline’s Cooking
Western Switzerland (Bern) – Meitschibei (Swiss Hazelnut Horseshoe Pastries) from Tara’s Multicultural Table
Paris – Three easy dishes for a taste of Summer in Paris from Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Be sure to visit each one to learn more about the regions on the route and to enjoy a taste of the cuisine! Show us how you plan to eat your way though Le Tour de France all month long with the hashtag #TourDeManger !
Bern is located in the western/central area of Switzerland. It is the capital of Canton Bern (second largest canton in the country) and the federal capital of Switzerland. The official language for this region is German with most speaking a dialect known as Alemannic Swiss German or Bernese German. Italian is the second most common, followed by French. In 2010, this beautiful city was also ranked among the top 10 cities in the world with the best quality of life.
Along with national dishes such as fondue, raclette, birchermüesli, and rösti, the canton of Bern also has a few regional specialties. Emmentaler cheese was created in the Emmental Valley and is now popular all over the world. Some local dishes include Emmental Apple Rösti, Berner Platte (plate filled with a variety of meat and vegetables), Zibelechueche (onion tart), Haselnusslebkuchen (hazelnut gingerbread), Berner Honiglebkuchen (Bernese honey cake), Meringues, and Meitschibei (Swiss hazelnut horseshoe pastries).
Meitschibei are Bernese pastries made with a sweetened hazelnut filling and are formed into the shape of a horseshoe. Their name directly translates to “Girl’s Legs.” I wasn’t able to find much information on these Swiss pastries, so I did my best by piecing together what was available from a few Swiss sites. I found the Meitschibei formed into a more distinct horseshoe shape like I made and a few where the ends were more parallel to each other and touching. I wasn’t sure how much they would rise, so I kept mine a little further apart. Some photos showed the edges completely sealed while others had a little of the filling peaking out of the ends. I chose to enclose them.
The dough was very easy to work with and roll out. Since it is milk-based, the yeast needs a bit more time to rise with 2 hours in the beginning and another 30 minutes after forming.
I rolled the dough into a thin rectangle and cut it into 4 equal pieces. You want the dough thin enough to easily roll and shape, but not so thin that it will tear. Any weak spots may cause the filling to burst through during baking. Top the pastries with egg yolk to create a golden topping.
Evan isn’t fond of sweets and pastries in general, so I never had to worry about him sneaking a bite or two while I was photographing. Claire is quite a different story. After getting everything set up and taking a few shots, Evan needed my assistance briefly in another room. I was gone maybe 10-20 seconds and returned to find Claire sitting right in the middle of the set-up and helping herself. She was even sweet enough to offer me a piece.
Meitschibei (Swiss Hazelnut Horseshoe Pastries)
Adapted from Swiss Milk
10 grams (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dried yeast
100 milliliters (scant 1/2 cup) lukewarm milk, 105-115 degrees F
300 grams (2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
30 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
75 grams (5 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
300 grams toasted and finely chopped/ground hazelnuts
150 grams (1 1/4 cups) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Zest of 1 orange
20 grams (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
60 milliliters (1/4 cup) water
1 egg, divided
To make the dough: In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over lukewarm milk, stirring to combine. Allow to sit until frothy, 5-10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Mix in the butter and yeast with milk until dough comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic. If too dry, add a little more milk. If too sticky, add a little more water. Oil a large bowl and add the dough, turning to coat. Cover with plastic or a towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down and cover again, allowing to rise for another hour.
To prepare the filling: In a large bowl, mix together the hazelnuts, powdered sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, and melted butter. Stir in enough water to just bring the mixture together. Divide the filling into 4 equal sections.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or lightly grease.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a thin rectangle about 20 inches long and 8 inches wide. Slice into 4 equal pieces each about 10 inches across and 4 inches wide.
Spread 1/4 of the filling over one of the rectangles, leaving a border around the edges. Brush the edges with egg white. Starting at the long side closest to you, roll up the pastry, sealing the seam and edges. Gently stretch the enclosed rope and fold to form a horseshoe. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining rectangles and filling. Lightly cover with kitchen towels and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of the pastries with egg yolk. Bake in preheated oven until golden on the tops, 15-20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.