Three times within a day and a half, last week, I heard people talk about Mütschli (blink, blink, Annette, Michelle und Franco). That is quite remarkable, considering this little bread does not really exist where I currently live, and before that sudden hail of mentions, I probably had not thought about it in several months. When the discussion came to Mütschli the third time, it just was too much. I was hungry, at that moment, and the description was mouthwateringly tempting. I knew what I would be baking on the weekend.
Switzerland – like Germany and Austria – not only is famous for the quality, but also the enormous variety of its breads. Mütschli (which is the Swiss name, the Germans and Austrians call them Semmeln or Brötchen) are small, portion sized, ball shaped loafs of a white bread that distinguishes itself from others through a very thin yet very, very crunchy crust and a light, fluffy, smooth inside. It counts as a staple in every Swiss bakery.
As a child, when my mother would take me to town and, after all chores were done, to a bakery for a snack, I always chose the big competitor of the Mütschli: A Weggli, also a small bread – this one though with a soft crust and a sweet dough -, that I would enjoy together with a Branchli, one of those wonderful, small chocolate bars.
It was only after I had visited a cinéma for the very first time in my life, at age eight, that I started an emotional affair with Mütschli: The scene in Johanna Spyri’s “Heidi”, when the house keeper opens the cabinet and is bombarded by all the Mütschli the girl had saved for her grandmother back home, turned me into a consumer of the crunchy little breads. Ever since, when I stopped at the school’s bakery cart in recess (oh, what times these still were!), I picked a Mütschli, often the luxurious one, with bacon cubes in it. And for field trips, days on the ski slopes or summer picnics, I always would bring Mütschli, abundantly spread with a mixture of sharp mustard and my beloved liver spread. (But let’s save this for another time…)