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How to Bake a Swiss Zopf

Zopf, a Swiss braided bread - tokamuwi  /
It is a beautiful Sunday morning and there is no better way to start a Sunday than with an extended Swiss breakfast. In Switzerland, there is one ingredient that cannot be missing from a Sunday morning meal: fresh plaited bread, called 'Zopf'. This bread is absolutely delicious with honey or strawberry jam or just about any other topping! Since there is quite a bit of butter in the bread we sometimes refer to it as 'Butterzopf' as well.

Zopf is a bread made from slightly sweetened yeast dough. It actually is quite similar in shape and taste to the Challah bread that Jewish people eat on Shabbat. Most people buy their Zopf at the local supermarket but some still bake their own plaited bread. My mom used to bake a big Zopf every Saturday afternoon so it would be ready for breakfast on Sunday. If you're not living in Switzerland you have no choice but to make your own Zopf if you fancy one for your breakfast.

Simple Recipe for Zopf

If you would like to try baking your own plaited Swiss bread then here is a good and simple recipe. It is in the metric system. If you prefer to work with cups go here.

1kg white flour
1 cube (42g) of fresh yeast
1 tbsp sugar
500ml milk
140g butter, softened
1 egg

  1. Put 1kg of white flour and 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl and mix them.
  2. Add the cube of yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar to 500ml of warm milk and stir until the yeast is dissolved.
  3. Add the yeast-milk-mixture and 140 g of soft butter (in pieces) to the flour and knead the mixture until it is smooth.
  4. Cover the bowl with the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest for 1 1/2 hours. The dough should raise to double its size in this time.
  5. Afterwards take the dough and form two long strands. Braid the dough into a Zopf as is shown in this video.
  6. Open an egg and scramble it. 
  7. Put the dough on a baking sheet with baking paper and use a kitchen brush to coat the Zopf with the egg. Instead of using baking paper you can grease the baking sheet. Let it raise again for 1/2 hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200 C and bake the for about 40 minutes. 
The Zopf tastes best when fresh from the oven but remains good to eat for a couple of days. It is also a great bring-along if you're invited to breakfast or afternoon tea and coffee.

You can make it sweeter by adding more sugar or raisins, or more savory by adding dried tomatoes. It is possible to replace the white flour with  a mixture of whole wheat and white flour if you want a healthier bread. For most Swiss people however, the authentic Swiss Zopf made with white flour and Swiss butter will always taste best!



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