About the Recipe
Growing up in a Swiss household, I would often wake up on the weekends to the sound of softly playing classical music and the smell of delicious freshly baked Zopf. Zopf (also known as Butterzopf) stands for braid and is a traditional Swiss bread usually made on weekends or for holiday brunch like Easter.
It has a beautiful shiny golden crust with a soft buttery inside. Traditionally served with jam and honey or with cheese and sliced deli meats. Perfect for all cravings and to be shared amongst family and friends.
Zopf can be made as a sweet bread (if you add sugar) or can be more savory (if you omit it) as this particular recipe is. Either way, there is nothing like the taste of a freshly baked piece fresh out of the oven.
Relatively easy to make, the only "complicated" bit is figuring out how to do the braid. To this day, I struggle to get it right. I don't mind if the braid isn't perfect. I know it will look pretty and taste heavenly regardless. A taste of Switzerland. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
3 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cup warmed milk
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup softened butter
3 Tbsp. water
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
In a large bowl, sift together flour and salt.
Warm the milk slightly either in a saucepan on the stove or in a microwaveable bowl. You want it warm to the touch, but not hot. Stir in yeast. Let this mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the yeast to start activating. Add in the egg and mix well.
Create a small well in the center of the flour mixture. Add in the softened butter and slowly pour in the warmed milk and egg mixture. This is where I go in with my hands right away. It is messy at first, but I like to hand knead my dough. If you prefer you can also use a stand mixer with the dough attachment. Knead or mix until combined. (If the dough still feels very sticky and is really clinging to your fingers, add a little bit more flour). When you have a nice ball of dough, cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for about an hour or until dough has doubled in size.
Once the dough has doubled, preheat oven to 380F. Split dough into two equal parts. (This is where the braiding fun begins). Lightly flour your work surface to prevent dough from sticking. By hand, roll each piece of dough into a long snake about 60-70cm long (2-2 1/2ft). Set one vertically and cross the other one over horizontally. Follow the steps below for braiding the 4 strands. (If you get mixed up, like I always do, don't worry, make whatever "braid" you can, tuck in the ends, et voila)!
Prepare egg wash by mixing together egg, water, salt and sugar. Transfer the Zopf to a lined baking sheet and brush with egg mixture.
Bake for 45 mins or until crust is hard and golden. (You can also tap your middle finger against it, if it sounds hollow, you're good to go)!