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Bread recipe - the Zopf

Zopf (in new window)


This is a typical Swiss Sunday treat. Some people think it owes its origins to a custom whereby widows cut off a braid of their hair and buried it with their husbands. As time went on, they buried a loaf in the same shape instead of their hair. The Zopf - or Züpfe as it is called in Bern - has been known in Switzerland since at least the middle of the 15th century.

Ingredients (for 2 loaves)

  • 1 kg white flour
  • 200 g butter
  • 1 egg
  • ½ l milk
  • 50 g fresh yeast or 15 gm dried
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 3-4 tsp salt


Sieve flour into a bowl, and make a hollow in the centre. Dissolve yeast in cold milk, add sugar. Separate egg, keeping yolk to one side. Add whites to yeast/milk mixture, beat slightly. Add salt, and beat again. Gently melt butter in pan. Add all ingredients to flour, and mix in. Cover with cloth, leave to rest for one hour in a warm place.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces, and form each into a sausage, with tapering ends.

Here comes the difficult bit...

Each zopf is made up of two strands. To make the first loaf, lay one strand horizontally on the work surface, and place another vertically across the middle. Take the right end of the horizontal roll and lay it leftwards across the top one, and take the left end and lay it rightwards. Then take the two ends of the vertical roll and do the same, bringing the upper end downwards and the lower end upwards. Continue alternately until the braid is complete, then press the ends together.

Alternatively, twist the strands together from the top, like a rope, then bend the twisted dough in half and twist the ends round each other again.

Repeat for the second loaf.

Never mind if they don't come out quite right: they should taste just as good!

Paint the loaves with the egg yolk mixed with water.

Bake for about 40 minutes at 200-220 C, turning the heat up towards the end in order to brown them.

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