If you love bread, then Switzerland must be a heaven for you. This country has over 200 different traditional breads. Swiss people love bread and they are amazing bakers.
The name Zopf (in the region of the Emmental it’s called Züpfe) means literally braid. This rich, buttery, plaided milk loaf is probably the most famous Swiss bread. It has been known in Switzerland since the middle of the 15th Century. Swiss like to eat it on Sundays, for breakfast or brunch. It tastes amazing with butter and jam or honey. I like to eat it with butter and cheese (and not only on Sundays!).
I knew this kind of bread for long before I came to Switzerland. Polish Chałka (HOW-ka) is very similar in its structure, but slightly sweeter, with a distinct scent of vanilla and usually with crumble on top. My family used to eat it on Sunday mornings, with butter and my mom’s homemade strawberry jam. It’s also similar to Challah, the Jewish bread eaten on Shabbat and holidays. Jewish version is braided with six strands of dough and doesn’t contain any dairy, which is important in the laws of Kashrut.
Few months ago I decided to make the Zopf myself. I bake a loaf of bread every Saturday morning when I get to spend weekends in Basel. The smell of freshly baked bread in the morning soothes my soul in a simple way and I love the satisfaction of making something so delicious with just few ingredients. Usually I go for Vollkorn Brot or Challah. I started missing the taste of buttery Zopf so I decided to make it myself.
Here I share the recipe and tips for making your Zopf even better than the one from supermarket!
- 500g/ 4 cups of strong white bread flour (you can find Zopf flour in most of supermarkets in Switzerland)
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp instant yeast or 1½ tsp active dry yeast (granulated) or 15g/ ½oz fresh yeast
- 70g/ 4-5 tbsp soft butter
- about 300ml/ 10fl oz milk
- 1 beaten egg for egg wash
- Warm the milk to blood heat (milk can’t be too warm, because it will kill yeast). If you’re using fresh or active dry yeast, then whisk it in with healthy pinch of sugar. Let it dissolve for few minutes.
- Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast (If using fresh or active dry yeast, mix it with the milk as instructed above). Cut the butter into pieces and work it into the flour.
- Add the milk into the flour.
- Knead by hand (about 15 minutes) or in an electric mixer (about 8 minutes) until smooth and the dough starts to clean itself off your hands. Add sprinkles of flour if needed to achieve this.
- Cover the bowl with a plastic foil and leave the dough to rise until doubled in bulk (about 1½ hours at room temperature).
- Knock the dough down, cut into two pieces, flatten each piece and roll out into a rope about 60cm/2 feet long.
- Lay the ropes of dough on a large working surface and braid as shown below.
- Put on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper and leave for about 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Daub the loaf with beaten egg.
- Place a water bath under the oven shelf. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
- The best milk for making Zopf is full fat.
- When you’re rolling the dough and it shrinks back, just cover it with a cloth and leave it for few minutes. It will help gluten relax and become more elastic and you’ll be able to roll perfect strings.
- If you want to make the dough grow faster, place it in the oven preheated to 50°C and leave the door open. If youwant to bake it early in the morning then you can put the bowl with dough in the refrigerator overnight and start from point 6 of the method in the morning.
- Tip for vegans: Replace milk with water and butter with margarine. I’ve never tried this version but I would also add around 2 tbsp of neutral-flavoured vegetable oil to make Zopf softer. To get a brown colour, replace egg wash with a mixture of soy milk (or other vegan milk) and honey (or agave/corn/maple syrup).
- Leftover Zopf makes perfect French toast (my favourite!).
Do you bake bread? What is your favourite recipe?
PS.: Let me know if you tried this recipe or share yours with me!
4 thoughts on “Girl in der Küche – Swiss Zopf”
Hey I am new to baking.but i would love to try this recipe…Which active yeast did u use if u could share the name or the picture. I live in Switzerland too so it will be easier for me to find it in stores
sorry, but Swiss bread is a joke! maybe when you’re coming from the US this shite sold here is great, but Germany and Chile is mannah from heaven in comparison. Zopf is the worst of all… yuk!