In Switzerland, you can find more than 200 different kinds of bread. However, for a perfect Sunday morning breakfast a loaf of Zopf is a must. It is a white yeasted loaf which has a bit of a crust but is spongy and soft inside. Try it out yourself with our Swiss family recipe.
The word Zopf translates into braid and describes the shape of the loaf. You can buy it at every bakery and supermarket in Switzerland in good quality, but nothing compares to a home-made Zopf, fresh from the oven onto the table.
We usually have it the sweet way, meaning with butter, honey or jam. It also tastes good with cheese, ham or a fried egg on top.
If you are ready to surprise your family next Sunday, try out our Swiss family recipe.
500 g (1.1 pounds) white flour
1 tablespoon salt (I always take sea salt)
1 tablespoon sugar
20 g (0.7 oz) fresh yeast
50 g (1.8 oz) butter
250 ml (1 cup) milk (full fat)
125 ml (0.5 cup) cream
1 egg yolk
- Mix milk, cream and sugar and carefully warm it up – just hand-warm not more. Once the milk/cream/sugar mix is hand-warm add the fresh yeast and stir until it resolves. Be careful, if you heat it up too much, the yeast dies and the dough will not rise.
- Take a large bowl and put in the flower. I recommend to sift it into the bowl, it makes the dough a tiny bit smoother. Make a little pit in the middle and place the salt there. Add the butter, which should be warm and soft, on top of the salt.
- Now pour a bit of the milk-mix into the middle of the flour and start to mix it well. Add the milk step by step until you get a rough dough.
- Take the rough dough out of the bowl and work it on a clean surface. Use a bit of extra flour so that it doesn’t stick too much. Knead it until it is smooth and elastic. It takes at least 5 minutes. If you are not sure about how it should look, set the timer to 5 minutes and knead constantly. It is a good exercise, too.
- Clean the bowl, put the dough into it and cover it with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours take the dough out and knead it again for a minute. Divide it into 3 equal pieces and roll each piece into a long string.
- Tuck the top ends together and start braiding the three strings. Also tuck the ends together. Prepare the baking tray with baking sheets and place the braided dough in the middle. Cover it again with the towel and let it rest for another hour. I admit that I don’t like to get up too early on Sunday mornings. That’s why I sometimes prepare the dough up to step 7 the evening before and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next morning I take it out and let it warm up to room temperature for 30 minutes or longer.
- Now whisk the egg yolk and brush the outside of the dough generously. This will give it the nice golden colour.
- Heat up the oven to 200°C (392°F) and place the baking tray at middle hight. Bake for about 30 minutes.
I tried a savory variation, too. It’s delicious. Just add two hands of bacon bits to the dough and work them in well. You may want to half the amount of salt from the original recipe, otherwise it may get too salty.