“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.” ~ Robert Browning
Celebrating the “World Bread Day 2012 ” with the Zopf or Swiss braided bread.
“Making breads requires little more than a pair of hands, an oven and patience. The recipe for success is simple : time and warmth are all it takes to transform a few basic ingredients into springy, silky dough that bakes to a crackly, crusted loaf ” . When I read these opening lines of the book “Ultimate bread” I felt inspired and greatly encouraged, it adds lots of confidence in me too. The best I liked about this book, or any cooking /baking book for that matter, is that this one is fully illustrated.
Those who believe that pictures says thousand words, illustration definitely boost up the confidence, and it best represent the long process and technic involved in bread baking. To me bread baking is very much therapeutic as it divert my minds from the ugliest thoughts and channelized our energy into more positive and creative form.
There are lots to tell about the process of bread baking, and it may not suffice in a single post and after all this post is not about how to make a perfect loaf, this is all about my first attempt to make braided bread.
Ever since I tasted success with this pumpkin bread I was happily bitten by the bread bug, and since then I have baked few loaves each with different degree of success. With time, patience and more practice I have improved upon my technic of baking a good loaf of bread and hence for the first time I thought of going to this bread baking event.
Since 2006 every year hundreds of bloggers from all around the world baked bread for this special day, October 16 which happens to be today and here I present “Zopf” or Swiss braided bread.
In bread utopian words – ” Zopf is a Swiss shiny golden milk loaf from the beautiful valley of Alps and is said to have originated in the Emmental region, where it is called Zupfe. The bread enriched with the sweet butter and creamy milk of the region, then braided and baked to a shiny golden loaf and is also part of the annual Thanksgiving meal in honor of the Emmentaler harvest.”
Recipe courtesy : Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille
- Active dry yeast : 1 tsp or one envelope
- Milk : ¾ cup milk
- Bread flour : 1½ cup
- Salt : ½ tsp
- Unsalted butter : 2 tbsp (softened)
- Sugar : 1 tsp
- Egg glaze made with 1 egg yolk and 1 tbsp milk
- Sprinkle the yeast into ¼ cup warm milk in a bowl.
- Leave for 5 minutes ; stir to dissolve.
- Add the sugar in the yeast mixture.
- Put the flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the dissolved yeast.
- Use a wooden spoon to draw enough flour into the dissolved yeast to form a soft paste.
- Cover the bowl with a dish towel, then let "sponge" until frothy and risen about 20 minutes.
- Pour half of the remaining milk into the flour well.
- Mix in the flour, salt and butter. Stir in the reserved milk as needed to form a soft and moist dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.
- Knead the dough until smooth, shiny and elastic about 10 minutes.
- Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a dish towel.
- Let it rise until doubled in size, about 1½ - 2 hours.
- Punch down, then let it rest for another 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into three pieces.
- With lightly flour dusted hands, roll out each piece to form a 16 in long rope and make a braided loaf.
- Place on a buttered baking sheet and cover with a dish towel.
- Proof until doubled in size, about 35 - 40 minutes.
- Brush the top of the loaf with the egg glaze.
- Bake in the preheated oven 350 F for 40 minutes, until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped underneath.
- Cool on a wire rack before serving.
The dough may take more time to rise, as it has salt and shortening in it.
If using salted butter then do not use salt in the recipe. More salt will hinder the dough rise.
Nothing gives more satisfaction than baking your own loaf and enjoying it too ! I could not be happier when I saw this loaf baking slowly in the oven and slowly turning to golden hues, and the room filled with the yeasty flavor of the bread.
It was a light and soft bread with shiny golden crust (except few stretch marks and little imperfect shape) and we enjoyed it with some left over lobster bisque and black bean chilli, coming soon right here, so stay tuned !
Happy Bread Baking !!!