The bread loaves are nestled in kitchen towels to hide the fact that we ate half of one of the loaves before I could take a photo!
Two similar breads came to mind for my next baking adventure. Swiss Zopf, which is known as Züpfe in the Bernese region of Switzerland, and Challah, a traditional sabbath bread in the Jewish tradition. I was lucky enough to enjoy both when I was young. They are similar in texture and in their beautiful braided presentation.
Yesterday’s decision to create loaves of Züpfe was based on my being able to adapt the dough to my bread machine. The temperature in our house doesn’t seem conducive to bread rising. The same problem exists when I try to let bread rise in the oven. To modify Victoria’s recipe for my Zojirushi bread machine, I mixed all the wet ingredients and placed them at the bottom of the pan. I layered on the bread flour and the yeast. Per many suggestions by recipe users, I also added one teaspoon of salt. After the bread dough processed in the machine, I braided the dough using a four-strand braid and let it rise on a parchment covered baking sheet for about an hour in a barely heated oven before finally baking it. It doubled in size!
Honestly, when I was finished braiding the bread, I had one of those I-am-so-impressed-with-myself moments. At these moments, I totally get the end zone celebration dance. Then it came out of the oven – wow! I proudly paraded the baked beauties through the house so that Jack and Maia would be impressed. The final victory? Hot slices of deliciously soft bread slathered in butter.
Thank you to Victoria Marler and her recipe at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/zopf. Her recipe follows for the traditional baking of Swiss Zopf bread loaves.
- 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
- 1 1/3 cups warm milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the egg yolk, butter and 2 cups of bread flour; stir well to combine. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and roll each piece into a 14 inch long cylinder. Braid the pieces together and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- In a small bowl, beat together egg white and water. Brush risen loaf with egg wash and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25, until golden.
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This is gorgeous! I can’t believe how clean the braid is. I am so impressed.
I know that this is a late reply, but when I read it I thought of a recent article I read about microwaves, and thought I would pass along this tip for rising dough:
Need a warm, moist place for your dough to rise? The microwave is the perfect place to set up a temporary proofer. The sealed environment of your microwave will keep the moisture and heat in. Just heat a cup of water in your microwave until it’s steaming, then put your dough in along with it, shut the door and let it do its thing.
Thanks for the tip, Kelly. Finding or creating the right environment for rising dough can be difficult – one of the factors prompting us to purchase our Zojirushi bread making machine. Look for a blog about this machine in the near future.