Swiss Braided Bread

This is a bread recipe I’ve only made a couple times, but it’s becoming one of my favorites. Now that the weather is cooler, I’m enjoying making bread again, and filling the house with its wonderful aroma while it’s baking. Swiss Braided Bread, also known as Zopf, has been around since the mid 15th century, and is traditionally eaten in Switzerland on Sunday mornings. So let’s gather the ingredients together.

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Ingredients:

1 pkg of dry yeast

1 ¼ cups milk

3 ½ cups flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)

1 teaspoon sugar

Prep: 3 hours | Baking: 40 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy

Yield: 1 Loaf

First, put 2 cups of the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir well.

Microwave the butter until just soft. Mine went a little too long, but it’s ok.

Put the butter into the dry mixture and stir well. It will be crumbly.

Microwave the milk until it’s between 110 and 120 degrees F.  Use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature. Add the milk to the bowl, and stir until smooth.

Add the rest of the flour, and stir until well combined.

The dough will be stiff.

Now it’s time to knead the dough. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface.

Start kneading the dough. This is done by folding the dough over on itself,

pressing down with the heel of your hand,

turning the dough 1/4 turn,

and then repeating the procedure over and over again. If it gets sticky, sprinkle a little flour over the dough. Knead for 10 minutes. This builds gluten which becomes the support structure for your loaf,  ensuring that your bread will rise and turn out right. After kneading, it will look like this.

Put the dough in a greased bowl, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Then cover with a towel to keep warm. Allow to rise until the dough is double in size.

Uncover the dough, and punch it down with your fist to get rid of all the big air bubbles.

Turn the dough out on your work surface, form into a square with your hands, and then cut into 3 strips with a sharp knife.

Roll each strip to form a 16 inch long rope.

Pinch together the 3 ropes at one end,

and then braid the ropes together.

When done braiding, pinch the ends together and turn under. Using both hands, place the loaf into a greased cookie sheet.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a towel, and allow to rise for about a half hour. It should be several inches longer.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Brush with melted butter, or take a shortcut, and just take a pat or two of butter and melt it all over the bread. This adds flavor and also softens the crust.

I toasted mine the next morning for breakfast, and spread it with more butter. Ummm….something’s missing.

Ah, homemade plum jelly.

Mmmm…

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——>  Up Next: Hot air balloons launch at the annual Topeka Huff’n Puff Balloon Rally.

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