Twisted Bread / Wurzelbrot

Organic Flour, Water, Salt and Preferment made with wild yeast are the basis for the twisted bread with amazing taste, consistency and look...
Wurzelbrot (Swiss Twisted Bread) plain and with black and green olives - 
Crunchy Outside with rustic flavor and soft inside - one of my favorites
According to Wikipedia, twisted bread is a hearty Swiss bread that is twisted along the longitudinal axis and looks like a root. The taste is slightly malty. It goes well with a hearty meal and it is a typical party bread. The term "Pain Paillasse" is a protected trademark and lodged a patented product, signed by Aime Pouly. Pain Paillasse is produced basically in three wheat flour mixtures, white, dark and rustic. The brand is distributed in franchising. As i can easily buy it here in Switzerland, i had the chance to directly compare both versions...and now you can make an educated guess....
It was already in many variations multiple times baked and posted in excellent Quality and appearance. Especially because of the ease of preparation and handling i have added it to the list of favorites which i bake from time to time. At least for guests at home it is a real eyecatcher!
Twisted Bread with Olives, white version
Twisted Bread, plain, white version

A particular difficulty with this recipe is the replacement of industrial yeast with preferment made with wild yeast water. This works very well in case a leaven / sourdough is added to the recipe. In this case, only the preferment is used to give the bread the rise and oven spring and at least the amazing taste.
Despite the high percentage of water in the dough (68%) - the dough can be handled very easily and can be shaped without any problems - even for untrained bakers like me. In one of the next attempt, i will increase the percentage slightly, although some of our guests already complained about the big holes as they were not anymore able to find the right place for the herb butter....

Even the incorporated Olives do not
destroy the holes
Thin and crispy Crust and rustic taste
with open Crumb and big holes

Preferment (refer to  "How to make Preferment using yeast water")
  • 190 g. (95 g. All-Purpose Flour (i use Swiss Zopfmehl + Halbweissmehl), 95 g. Water)
  • Preferment
  • 388 g. All-Purpose Flour (i use Swiss 0,36 parts  Zopfmehl und 0.64 parts Halbweissmehl)
  • 233 g. Water
  • 9 g. Salt
Dissolve the Preferment in the water and add all flour. Mix well and let it rest for 30 minutes (autolyse) or mix it with your food processor on lowest speed. Kneed it for 10 minutes on lowest speed and add the salt. Continue for 3-4 minutes. Add the additional ingredients like olives or anything you want (e.g. dried tomatoes, nuts, ...) and carefully incorporate it into the dough. Use either your hands or the food processor.
Dough with Olives while on bulk fermentation
Let it now rest for 2,5 hours at room temperature (about 24 degree) and make a fold at 30, 60 and 90 minutes (in the bowl). At the end, make on Stretch & Fold and put it back into the bowl for the final rise. Let it now finally rise for 1,5 hours at warm temperatures (about 30 degree).
Remove it very carefully from the bowl onto a floured surface and divide it into two long pieces. Twist it carefully and move it on a baking pan or sheet (or directly into the oven).
Bake it at 270 degree dropping to 240 degree with steam. Remove the steam after 15 minutes and continue with baking for 15 minutes (at all 30 minutes or until it is medium brown or darker, depending on your taste).
For the rustic version of the twisted Bread, which give much more rustic flavor, just replace a part of the flour by whole grain flour and add some water like the following:

Rustic Version of Twisted Bread
  • 190 g. (95 g. All-Purpose Flour (i use Swiss Zopfmehl + Halbweissmehl), 95 g. Water)
  • Preferment
  • 288 g. All-Purpose Flour (i use Swiss 0,36 parts  Zopfmehl und 0.64 parts Halbweissmehl)
  • 100 g. Whole Grain Flour
  • 248 g. Water
  • 9 g. Salt
This recipe is forwarded to YeastSpotting


  1. Nice bread, it's called "Pain de Lodeve" in France, it's the ancester of French bakery...
    Good job!


  2. I love the look...I bet it tastes great too!

  3. Thank you, they do!
    The preferment adds the good taste and the time which is needed to make the bread. I am not using commercial yeast - i have replace it by a preferment based on yeast water from organic rye grains. Usually i am using the San-Francisco-Sourdough but for my Swiss Bread Baking Project i prefer the Preferment, as it is not acid or at least it doesn't add any acid taste to the bread. In the beginning i was not sure if this is working - but since i have made the "Bread of Canton of Basel" i am 100% convinced. This bread is amazing and the best one i ever made - i will post it the next weeks. I am sure it will also work if you replace the preferment with the same amount of your vigorous Sourdough.

  4. Bernd,
    I found your blog from MC's blog, and I'm interested in making some of your breads - I'm most interested in your whole grain starter, or 'yeast water', which is used in your preferments. I have some questions: why don't the grains sprout during the process of soaking them for 5 days? And, I'm confused about the refresh process during the creation of the yeast water- does the refresh use new grains, or reuse the grains which were previously used? (seems like new would be necessary.).

    Thanks for your assistance with my questions.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. If you start with yeast water, then it usually takes up to 5 days until you can use the yeast water to make a preferment. I personally use organic grain as i buy it from a mill close to my home. You can basically use nearly all organic food or fruits, e.g. raisins, tomatoes, lemons....
      I cannot answer why the grain doesn't sprout. Usually they don't sprout under water - they have just to be humid. When i use sprouts in my bread, i just keep them humid.
      Regarding your question of refreshing:
      If you have you yeast water ready, mix it, remove the water except 100 ml, add on teaspoon sugar and 500 ml. of water and let it again rest for 1 to 2 days at warm temperature ( in summertime it is ok at room temperature). Then again remove the water except the 100 ml and add sugar and 500 ml water.
      The removed yeast water can be kept in the fridge for 2 month or more. Just remove it some hours before you are going to use it.
      After the third refreshing cycle, i use new grains (5 tablespoons) and start again the 3-times-refreshing cycle.
      The used grains are washed, dried and milled and used to prepare the next bread. I have once tried to let them sprout, but this doesn't worked.
      At the end, there is no waste of resources and i haven't bought any commercial yeast since months :-)
      I am currently making a series of breads with reduced amount of Preferment (50%, 25% and 10%) and with long over-night proofing at room temperature. I will post it next time. Hope this helps and you are successful with the yeast water. I know, that it is additional work and the use of commercial yeast seems much easier -but once you have found you schedule - then its easy. The preferment can also be stored in the fridge and can directly be used for baking - just remove it some hours before baking. You can also refresh the preferment - just add 50 g. of yeast water and 50 g. of Flour and let it rest until it doubles / triples in 2 to 4 hours.

  5. Thank you Bernd, for your generous reply - Yes, I think it's reasonable that if the grains are completely covered with water, they would not sprout, as I'm sure oxygen is necessary. May I ask if this process was created by you, or if it is used by other bakers in your area? I shall try your process for yeast water from fresh grain and give it a try in my baking - I like very much the fact that you are not having to throw out wasted starter during the refresh. I also like the look of this bread above; I shall try that too.

    Thanks Bernd - I'll let you know how things turn out.