Züpfe (Swiss Braided Enriched Bread) is not considered an ordinary bread. Züpfe (is also referred to as Zopf) is its own specialty and the Swiss love it. I love it. It is a treat indeed and by the time I was twelve I believed my family should enjoy it more often so I decided to learn how to make it. My dear Great Tante Emily showed me how to braid the züpfe, ever so patiently and my mom or dad oversaw the process until I had the recipe down! It is a cherished memory for me. The dough begins with fresh yeast, but I know others have used dry yeast too, and have achieved the desired result. If you have unbleached bread flour, use that, (paying attention to the conversions from ap flour to bread flour!) otherwise you can use all-purpose unbleached flour like I did. Melted butter and whole milk are added to the recipe for moisture, flavor and texture, which makes it an enriched bread. The egg wash on the braided dough adds a beautiful shine to the crust! It really is a show stopper on the breakfast table.
I prepare the fresh yeast by adding it to a mug, along with a teaspoon and a half of granulated sugar and then about 3/4 cup of lukewarm water. I let the yeast activate in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until I see that it is ready for business.
Once the dough has risen for about 1 and 1/2 – 2 hours, form a fist and push your fist through the dough once and let it rise again for another 30 minutes.
Invert the dough on a clean surface. You may want to use a little flour, but you may not need it. I used too much flour here which later interfered with my ability to roll out the ‘strands’ for the braid. So, if your dough does not stick to the surface you’ve got a perfect dough to work with!
Depending how big of a loaf you want to make, and how many, you’ll divide the dough in half. If you are one large, long loaf, then roll out each half into ‘strands’ You want both strands to be about 1 1/2″ in circumference and uniform in shape.
All ready to prove again for about 20 minutes, covered with a cloth.
Just before placing in preheated oven, brush egg yolk and water mixture all over bread!
Once it is golden brown, remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack. Serve with preserves or honey. Enjoy!
- 40 grams fresh yeast (12 grams or ¾ ounce dry yeast)
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- 1½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 kilogram all purpose unbleached flour (2.2 pounds)
- 500 milliliters of lukewarm whole milk (2 cups)
- 150 grams melted butter (1⅓ stick)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 egg yolk, stirred and diluted with 1-2 teaspoons filtered water
- In a mug, add fresh yeast, sugar and then lukewarm water, set aside for 20 minutes.
- In a small pot, warm milk until lukewarm (or warm in a microwave safe container).
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour and salt.
- Make a 'well' with the flour.
- Pour yeast mixture in the well. Then add lukewarm milk and melted butter.
- Using the dough hook attachment, start the mixer on low - flour may jump around initially. If you are mixing sans stand mixer, use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients and form a dough, adding flour if needed.
- You'll need to knead it via machine or hand for at 15 minutes up to 25 minutes. If you are using the machine, as soon as the dough is no longer sticking to the sides, divide it in half and let one half stay in the mixer on medium speed while you knead the other half by hand. Switch every 5 minutes so both halves get equal attention.
- Combine the doughs in the bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1½ hours to 2 hours.
- Remove towel and "punch" dough down once with fist and then recover with towel to let rise for another 30 minutes.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Invert dough on a clean work surface and using a sharp knife, cut dough in half. If you are planning on making a large züpfe, then use each half as a braid or 'strand'. I ended up making 3 smaller loaves (yield 3 servings) each, by dividing the doughs into smaller pieces.
- Both halves need to be rolled into logs or braids that are about 1½" in diameter.
- You'll begin with two braids and you'll lay one across the other to form a cross at the middle.
- Please see diagram below recipe.
- Once you've braided the dough into a beautiful looking züpfe, you'll place the loaf (ves) on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with clean kitchen cloth and let rise for about 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Prepare one egg yolk and 1-2 teaspoons water in a small dish.
- Remove cloth, and using a pastry brush, brush egg yolk mixture all over the bread that is not touching the sheet.
- Place züpfe in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack.
- Serve at breakfast time alongside fruit preserves and honey. Enjoy!