Wäje, Kuche, Chueche, Flade, Tünne, Tünnele, Tüle, Dünne, Dünnle, Dünnet, Turte, Gâteau, Torta, Crostata, Tuorta, wherever you are and whatever you call it, the Wähe is one of the most beloved and versatile baked goods in Switzerland.
According to the Kulinarisches Erbe, a Latin-German dictionary first described the Wähe or "wäye" as a Kuchen or Fladen in 1556. Thirty years later the Zürich courts recorded a case of a thief who stole flour and baked nine loaves of bread and two "wäyen", though what exactly those "wäyen" were is unknown.
The Wähe of today is prepared as follows: a base of buttery pastry, a layer of ground nuts (for sweet versions), the topping (seasonal fruits, cheese, vegetables, meat) and the Guss or liquid element, which is usually some mixture of eggs, milk, and cream. Most loved are sweet variations with apricot, apple, or zwetschgen (a variety of plum), or savoury with onions, bacon or cheese
The Wähe is likely from the central, flat part of Switzerland, as it requires an oven, and these were not often found in the higher alpine settlements. For many Swiss families who would traditionally eat a vegetarian meal on Fridays, it was seen as an easy way to do this while using up leftovers from the week. Both the sweet and savoury variants would be used as a meal. My grandmother made Wähe every Friday night for dinner, and my mother-in-law still makes it almost once a week.
Making Wähe, a visual guide
They are easy to make and fantastically delicious. Here's how:
Prepare your topping. I like to add booze if at all possible.
Roll out the pastry and add the toasted nuts. You can use pre-made pastry or make your own.
Arrange your topping.
Gussy it up. Then bake.
1 recipe Kuchenteig (about 250g), or enough pastry to cover your pan
50 g ground nuts, toasted
750 g zwetschgen, pitted and halved
2 shots spirit of choice
200 ml milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 200C / 400F / gas mark 6
Paper the bottom of a 9 inch / 23 cm square or round fluted tart pan.
Roll out your pastry and line the pan. Sprinkle the toasted nuts over the base.
Toss the pitted and halved zwetschgen in Vielle Prune, or other spirit of choice (optional).
Arrange the zwetschgen in rows on top of the nuts.
Prepare your Guss. In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, eggs, sugar and cinnamon.
Place your tart pan on a lined baking sheet, then pour the guss over. Do not overflow the pan with the guss, pour enough to reach just under the edge of the pastry (fruit sizes and arrangement will vary).
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the liquid has set and the fruit juices are bubbling.
- Be sure to cool your toasted nuts before sprinkling them over the pastry.
- If the zwetschgen are particularly sour, add a tablespoon of sugar when they are mixed with the booze.
- Always place the tart pan on a lined baking sheet BEFORE pouring the Guss.