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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Swiss Sunday Bread from Spelt flour - Zopf

Sometimes I'm not really sure if there is more varieties of cheese in Switzerland or more varieties of bread.  Just like it is with all different kinds of cheese, every Swiss canton has its own traditional bread.  Zopf is a very traditional one and it's quite unique.  Zopf means braid as in the shape of this bread.  It has a very special buttery taste and it's mainly preferred for Swiss Sunday breakfasts.  I prefer this bread sometimes to the other breads, because it lasts longer and with all the butter, it stays softer.  I bought a bread machine about 5 years ago.  Yes, I have just said I live in the bread country, but sometimes it's nice to make fresh loaf at home.  It was the best kitchen appliance I have ever bought and it was certainly the most used kitchen appliance I have.  Especially in the last couple of years, as I've been finding it difficult sometimes to get out of the house with my two little children, I used my bread machine a lot more than I used to.  I've also started trying different shapes of breads, because we all know a loaf can be boring sometimes.  Then I use the machine only to prepare the dough.  For this bread I have also made the dough in the bread machine.  If you don't have one then basically follow the instructions for normal dough.   I used spelt flour for this version, which is not the traditional zopf bread, but it tastes great.  I made the same bread again couple of days later to use the left over flour, but sprinkled some sesame seeds over it to give it a slightly different taste.  I also took out the egg that is normally used in the traditional dough, because I believe this way the bread is softer and lasts a bit longer.  I only used one egg to brush the bread over with.

500 g spelt flour
270 ml milk - at room temperature (If you don't want to use milk, you can also use water to replace.)
50 g butter - at room temperature
15 mg of dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1 egg - beaten - to brush the dough
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

If you are using a machine, put the first 6 ingredients and start making the dough.  If you're kneading it by hand, make sure that your ingredients are not too cold.  Ideally they should be at room temperature, otherwise you'll have to wait longer for your dough to rise.  For hand kneading, mix all your ingredients well and knead a dough until it's all smooth.  Leave your dough covered with a clean kitchen towel in a warm place for about 1 to 1,5 hour until it's doubled in size. 
When it's ready, preheat your oven to 180° C(356° F) degrees and get ready to braid your bread.  Divide the dough into two pieces, where one piece is double size of the other one.  Then form one long and one short rolls from the dough.  Put the longer one on a baking sheet shaped like a "U" and put the short roll in the middle of that "U". (See picture)  This will give you three rolls where you can form your braid.  Your braid should look like the second picture in the end.  Once ready, brush it over with the beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds if you'd like.  Bake it in your preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes.  When it is done, leave it to cool at least for about 15-20 minutes before any attempt to slice it with a knife.  Spread some butter on your lovely freshly baked Zopf slice and enjoy your breakfast!

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