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 nuts. You can use pre-made pastry or make your own.
Arrange your topping.
Gussy it up. Then bake.
one recipe Wähe Dough, or enough dough to cover you pan
about 800 g fresh Zwetschgen
125 ml milk
125 ml cream
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vanilla paste or extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
60 g ground nuts
Preheat oven to 200° C / 400° F / gas mark 6.
Roll out your dough and line a 28 cm (11 inch) round springform or tart pan. Poke the bottom of the dough all over with a fork then keep the tart shell cool (preferably in the freezer) until you have the filling ready.
Halve and pit your plums.
Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Place your tart pan on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with the nuts, then arrange the apricots in rows on top. Pour in the liquid.
Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the liquid has set and the fruit juices are bubbling.
If the zwetschgen are particularly sour, toss with a tablespoon of sugar.
Toss the plums with a shot of booze before arranging on the pastry, if you are so inclined.
Always place the tart pan on a lined baking sheet BEFORE pouring the liquid over.