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Crusch Alba's Pear Bread
(Birnbrot)

This is a genuine Swiss pear bread recipe served at breakfast and dinner the Crusch Alba Hotel in the Lower Engadine part of Switzerland.  We fell in love with this dense, chewy bread when we stayed at the Crusch Alba this summer and asked the Sutter-Coretti family, owners of the hotel, to email us the recipe.  It arrived in German and my husband Bart did the translation into English.  If anyone would like the original recipe in German, please send me an email to ditty@dnai.com.

The Crusch Alba Hotel pictured here is a delightful tiny hotel in S-Charl at the end of a 15 km winding dirt road up from Scuol.  It is in the far eastern part of Switzerland, a little to the east of St. Moritz and Davos. There are endless hikes in the surrounding Alps and trailheads in every direction right from the front door of the hotel. The warmth and hospitality of the Sutter-Correti family will make you feel at home and they equip you for any hike you want to take.  Visit their website at http://www.cruschalba.ch.


Crusch Alba Hotel (on the left)

There are two secrets to the Sutter-Coretti's Pear Bread recipe:

1.    The dried fruit and nut filling is infused with Kirschwasser and rosewater;

2.    The fruit filling, which itself has some dough in it to bind it together, is then encased in a thin layer of dough.

In their words  "one kneads bread dough into the paste of dried fruits, nuts and different spices and pours rosewater over the entire splendorous object". 

The preparation of this pear bread requires a certain amount of time.  Therefore, a number of loaves are baked at once.  They will keep 10 to 14 days as is, in a cool place and never in a plastic bag.  A slice of juicy pear bread with a thick dollop of butter awakens memories of gemütlich breakfasts, tea table or a holiday table decorated for Christmas.

(The amount of each ingredient is in metric. I do plan to covert the recipe into the American system in a few weeks.)

Filling:             2 kg dried pears
400 gr dried damson plums
0.5 lt red wine
200 g shelled almonds
200 g pine nuts
500 g walnuts
250 g raisins
250 g dried currants
150 g candied orange or lemon peel
2-3 dl Kirschwasser or brandy
2-3 dl rosewater
30 g cinnamon powder
30 g mace
10 g coriander
10 g clove powder
30 g anise powder
1.5 kg bread dough (see recipe below)
egg yolk for brushing

Assembling the Filling:

  1. Cover  the dried pears with water.  Bring to boil and take off heat.  Let  the pears soften overnight.

  2. Put the plums in the red wine and likewise let them stand overnight.

  3. Drain the dried fruits and put them, without stems or pits, through a food processor until they form a paste.

  4. Chop all the nuts coarsely and add to the paste along with the candied orange/lemon peel. 

  5. Add in the Kirschwasser or brandy, rosewater and spices in alternating small portions.  Taste the paste after each addition until you have found your preferred flavor.  Some like it spicier, others like it "schnappsier"Keep the bottle of brandy or Kirshwasser near at hand to correct the flavor to your liking.

  6. Work the finished paste well and let it stand a few hours.

Making the Bread Dough:

While the paste is resting, prepare the bread dough as follows:

Dough:            2 kg flour
500 g butter (melted)
2 dl neutral vegetable oil
4-5 dl water
3-4 large eggs
20 g salt

  1. Mix the melted butter, oil, water, eggs and salt well and stir into the flour. 

  2. Work into a dough and knead until elastic.

  3. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Store in the refrigerator for two hours before use.

Assembling the Loaves:

  1. On a floured surface, mix the fruit paste and 1.5 kg of bread dough well until the dough is fully incorporated into the paste.

  2. Form loaves in whatever size you like.  Set them aside, covered loosely with a thin towel.

  3. Roll out the remaining dough to about 5 mm thickness and cut into a shape just a little larger than your loaves.

  4. Drape the dough around each loaf and bring all the edges together under each loaf.  Pinch securely.

  5. Prick the top of each loaf several times with a fork and paint with the beaten egg yolk. 

  6. Put the loaves on a baking sheet and set them in the middle of a cold oven.  Turn on the heat to 325° F and bake for 50-60 minutes.

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