Rich and buttery Swiss bread provides a beautiful and delicious centerpiece for brunch.
My bread-baking goal upon moving to Mongolia was to bake all of my favorite breads without the aid of my trusty Zojirushi bread machine that I relied on heavily in Alaska. The tiny house we will eventually live in will not have room for such an extravagant machine, so it was time to wean myself off of this terrific invention. In Alaska, I enjoyed throwing all my ingredients into a machine, going for a walk and coming back to beautiful finished doughs ready to shape and bake. These days, I’m finding that I really enjoy the process of manually bringing all the individual ingredients together to form delicious and beautiful breads. There is something satisfying about kneading dough and knowing, by touch, if it needs more of something.
The final bread on the list from my Alaska days to make from scratch was züpfe. I was introduced to this braided Swiss bread when I was young. I loved it. It could have been because of its soft, almost creamy texture or the lovely Swiss braids. I would eat as much of it as I was allowed. As an adult, I still love the flavor and the texture. The braids are fun to create and give an impressive finish. Bring this bread to your next dinner party instead of the traditional bottle-of-wine and see what happens.
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/3 cups warm milk (105F/41C)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 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, 2 cups of bread flour and salt. Stir well to combine.
- Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing 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 about a 14-inch long log. Braid the pieces together and place on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Pinch the ends of the braids well so they don’t come undone.
- Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- 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 minutes, until golden brown.