Sunday, July 25, 2010

Zopf (Swiss bread)

This has to be my all-time favourite bread recipe, it's simple, delicious, and also sentimental. It's a Swiss recipe that my mum used to make as i was growing up, and I learnt most of my cooking and baking skills from her so I guess it was inevitable that I would become rather attached to it.
Making your own bread is so rewarding, plus it can be really therapeutic and relaxing.Last year I attempted to teach one of my flatmates how to make bread, he became so enthusiastic he broke through our wooden bench while kneading. Martial Arts training combined with a poorly reinforced bench, makes for an interesting disaster in the kitchen.

What you need:
  • 500g flour (I use High Grade)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons yeast (I use Active Dried Yeast)
  • 60g butter or margarine
  • 300ml warm milk
  • yolk of one egg
How to do it:

Put 150ml of the warm milk into a bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside somewhere warm for 10 -15 minutes until frothy. It's very important that the milk is not hot or cold, but just lukewarm.

Add the yeasty milk to a bowl of flour, salt and butter. Add the rest of the milk. Mix.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Don't cut this short otherwise you won't get such a nice texture, so be prepared to get a good workout. Or if you are lazy (shame on you) and use a mixer, then I guess it would take only 5 minutes.

Leave the dough aside somewhere warm until it doubles in size. The time will vary, but I tend to just leave it for 2 hours. Be sure to keep it covered (I like using a damp tea towel.)

Knock the dough down by giving it a few good punches (this releases all the carbon dioxide) and divide it into three pieces and plait it and pinch the ends and roll them under slightly. Let it rise for another half an hour.

Brush the top with a beaten egg yolk.

Preheat your oven to 220 Celsius, but when you put your bread in turn it down to 180 and cook for approx 50 minutes.

How to eat:

In my experience this bread is more of a breakfast bread. I remember visiting my grandparents and sitting down for breakfast and tucking into slices of zopf with lashing of fresh unsalted butter then having jam smeared on top. So perfect. But it is fine for sandwiches as well, but just note that it does have more of a sweeter yeasty quality. And it's best to let it cool before eating.

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