Easy Zopf Bread (not Challah)

Easy Zopf Bread (not Challah)
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This zopf bread, not challah as it’s known in most parts of America, is warm and soft with a crisp golden crust. Serve with a spread of butter, jam, or cream cheese, better yet, dip a chunky slice into a bowl of creamy soup for a touch of comfort. 

Zopf is a type of braided bread that’s popularly known in parts of Europe like Switzerland. The name simply means braided in German and French, based on its shape. 

 

Zopf bread is relatively easy to make with essential ingredients, and it’s traditionally a Sunday’s favorite in Switzerland just like challah in most Jewish households. This bread is truly an Easter must-have. Whenever my brother and his wife (Swiss native) come visiting from Switzerland, we make Zopf bread in place of challah because there is no Shabbat without a warm braided bread beside a pretty lit menorah candlelight dinner. 

So, the last time my sister in law came visiting, I took advantage and asked her to assist me in making Zopf bread for the blog. 

 

easy zopf (challah) bread

How to make Zopf (Challah) Bread

 

You’ll need;

 

  • All-purpose flour
  • Butter
  • Yeast
  • Sugar or honey
  • Salt (optional)
  • Milk, room temperature ( you can substitute half the milk with water)
  • Egg (for the egg wash)

 

Some people use egg yolk to make Zopf bread, but we decided to omit that as it’s not necessarily a requirement, we couldn’t tell the difference. 

 

Making Zopf Dough

 

You can make the dough in two ways; kneading by hand or using a stand mixer. 

 

easy zopf (challah) bread

Using a stand mixer: 

 

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough attachment, mix the flour, butter, yeast, sugar, and salt until combined. 

 

  • Gently add the room temperature milk and mix on low speed for about 3 minutes, then increase the speed to medium-high for another 7 minutes or until the dough is fully combined and soft to the touch.  

 

  • Damp a kitchen towel with warm water and place it over the bowl. A cling wrap works just as good. Allow the dough to rest in a cool, dry place for about 60 minutes or until the dough doubles in size. 

 

Kneading by hand: 

 

easy zopf (challah) bread

 

 

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool. 
  • Add the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl, mix to combine. 

 

  • Make a well in the middle of the bowl, pour in the melted butter gently and milk, a cup at a time, and combine until a dough begins to form.

 

  • Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and begin to knead. Begin by folding the dough over and pushing down with the heel of your palm, curving your fingers over the dough, turn the dough over and push down again. Repeat the process until the mixture is smooth and elastic; this should take about 20 minutes.  Shape the dough into a ball.

 

  • Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rest in a cool, dry spot to rise or double in size for about 1 hour.

 

*Cooks tip: When kneading by hand, add 10ml of white wine to make the dough softer.

 

How to Braid a two-strand Zopf Bread

 

This recipe makes two big loaves and two small knots. If you want the loaves smaller, divide the dough into six portions and follow the directions below. 

 

easy zopf (challah) bread

  • Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into four equal parts, and fold it over once or twice. Begin to roll out each piece into a thick strand, about 18 to 20 inches long and 1 ½ inch wide. 

 

  • Braid the dough according to the picture below. 
  • One strand above the other strand, then one under.  Focus on one hand ( right hand up and right hand under).

 

easy zopf (challah) bread

 

  • Repeat these steps, working towards you, until you can no longer braid. The loaf will naturally lift to one side. Pinch the ends of the rope together and tuck both ends under the braid. Carefully transfer the bread to the prepared baking sheet. 

** If you’d rather make an easier three-strand braid, google three-strand braid for instructions. 

 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and lightly brush over the zopf bread. Reserve the rest for later. 

 

  • Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.

 

  • Preheat oven to 395°F

 

  • Before placing the loaves into the oven, brush another coat of the egg wash. At this point, you can sprinkle sesame seed or poppy seed for a fancy look. 

 

  • **Allow sufficient space in the oven for air circulation; otherwise, the bread will come out dense or undercooked.

 

  • Bake for 25 to 30 mins or until you hear a hollow sound when you tap the top of the loaf with your middle finger. 

 

  • As soon as you remove the zopf bread from the oven, place on a wire rack to cool completely. Brush the top with melted butter for that luscious, shiny top. 

 

 

easy zopf (challah) bread

 

Bread can be stored at room temperature in an airtight bag for 3-4 days. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freezer for up to 3 months—Slice bread before freezing and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. 

 

I hope you’ll give this easy zopf (challah) bread a try. If you are looking for other delicious baked bread, try this plantain bread or fan-favorite whole wheat chocolate banana bread.

 

Share a picture of your zopf bread with us on our social media using the hashtag worldlytreat(#worldlytreat). We’d love to join the soirée. Don’t forget to pin it for later.

 

As we continue to face this trying time with the pandemic, try to maintain good self-care. Safeguard your mental, spiritual, and emotional space. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your loved ones. Stay sane, safe, and alive!!!

 

 

 

PEACE & LOVE

Maureen

 

easy zopf (challah) bread
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Easy Zopf Bread (Challah)

This zopf bread or challah as it’s known in most parts of America is warm and fluffy with a crisp golden crust. Serve with butter and jam or cream cheese spread, better yet, dip a chunky slice into a bowl of creamy soup for a touch of comfort. 
Prep Time1 hr 40 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: European, German, Swiss
Keyword: Braided bread, Challah bread, Zopf Bread
Servings: 2 Big loaves
Calories:
Author: Maureen Celestine

Ingredients

  • 8 cups All-purpose flour (1001.24 g)
  • ½ cup Butter, cubed, room temperature (113g)
  • 2 packets active dry yeast ( about 14g, 4 ½  teaspoons)
  • 3 teaspoons Sugar or honey
  • 2 teaspoons Salt 
  • cups Milk, room temperature 575g ( you can substitute half the milk with water)
  • 1 Egg (for the egg wash)

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough attachment, mix the flour, butter, yeast, sugar, and salt until combined. 
    zopf bread
  • Gently add the room temperature milk and mix on low speed for about 3 minutes, then increase the speed to medium-high for another 7 minutes or until the dough is fully combined and soft to the touch.  
  • Damp a kitchen towel with warm water and place it over the bowl. A cling wrap works just as good. Allow the dough to rest in a cool, dry place for about 60 minutes or until the dough doubles in size. 
  • Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into four equal parts, and fold it over once or twice. Begin to roll out each piece into a thick strand, about 18 to 20 inches long and 1 ½ inch wide. 
  • Braid the dough according to the picture below. 
    One strand above the other strand, then one under.  Focus on one hand ( right hand up and right hand under).
    easy zopf (challah) bread
  • Repeat these steps, working towards you, until you can no longer braid. The loaf will naturally lift to one side. Pinch the ends of the rope together and tuck both ends under the braid. Carefully transfer the bread to the prepared baking sheet. ** If you’d rather make an easier three-strand braid, google three-strand braid for instructions. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and lightly brush over the zopf bread. Reserve the rest for later. 
  • Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.
     
    Preheat oven to 395°F
    zopf bread
  • Before placing the loaves into the oven, brush another coat of the egg wash. At this point, you can sprinkle sesame seed or poppy seed for a fancy look. 
     
    **Allow sufficient space in the oven for air circulation; otherwise, the bread will come out dense or undercooked.
     
    zopf bread
  • Bake for 25to 30 mins or until you hear a hollow sound when you tap the top of the loaf with your middle finger. 
     ** Half way through baking, brush another egg wash over the bread.
    As soon as you remove the zopf bread from the oven, place on a wire rack to cool completely. Brush the top with melted butter for that luscious, shiny top. 
     Slice and enjoy!

Notes

Cook's Tip

** When rolling the dough, roll from center going outward away from you. if your palm starts to feel dry and you feel you are stretching the dough, rub your palm with little water. If your palm gets too wet, rub flour over palm and continue to roll out dough. 
 ** Halfway through baking, brush another egg wash over the bread if the top is not browning.
**Bread can be stored at room temperature in an airtight bag for 3-4 days. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freezer for up to 3 months—Slice bread before freezing and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. 
 

How to Knead Zopf Bread by hand 

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool. 
  • Add the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl, mix to combine. 
  • Make a well in the middle of the bowl, pour in the melted butter gently and milk, a cup at a time and combine until a dough begins to form.
  • Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and begin to knead. Begin by folding the dough over and pushing down with the heel of your palm, curving your fingers over the dough, turn the dough over and push down again. Repeat the process until the dough is smooth and elastic, this should take about 20 minutes.  Shape the dough into a ball.
  • Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rest in a cool dry spot to rise or double in size for about 1 hour.
Proceed to baking instruction on recipe card.
*Cooks tip: When kneading by hand, add 10ml of white wine to make the dough softer.

 

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4 thoughts on “Easy Zopf Bread (not Challah)”

  • I just finished making this, and can say for sure it wasn’t as hard as i thought it would be. It came out really good. I know i need more practice on my weaving skills but taste wise I am golden. Thanks a lot. Recipe was easy to follow as well. Bread is delicious and i know i will be making more within the next few weeks. Wish I could post pics but don’t know how to do so on here. I will tag you on IG

  • This is NOT challah. Challah is pareve and contains no dairy products. Vegetable oil is used in place of butter and milk. Zopf bread looks delicious but can not be eaten with meat products (like chicken or beef for Shabbat dinner). Please update your description. Thanks!

    • Hi Barry, thanks for the honest feedback. I do agree with your sentiments. As you can see in the first paragraph of my post, I stated, “challah” bread is what it’s mostly called here in the US. I left that bit in the title for search engine optimization. I am in no way taking away from the history of challah, and I am sorry if you viewed it that way.

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