Donnerstag, November 24, 2011

Zopf - Swiss Braided Sunday Bread w/ Active Dry Yeast

This version is fail save and uses Active Dry Yeast.

I make the Zopf with the following US ingredients:

1 lbs      500 g     White Flour
1 packet             Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
1 cup      2.5 dl    Milk
1/2 cup    100 g     Butter
1 tsp      1 Teel.   Salt
1/2 tsp    1/2 Teel. Sugar
1          1         Egg

Heat half cup of milk to temperature between 100° and 110 °F (about 50 sec. in microwave oven).
Stir in Active Dry Yeast and sugar. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Mix flour, salt and softened butter in a large bowl. Poor yeast mixture in the bowl and add milk till the content of the bowl becomes a consistency that can be kneaded. Knead for about eight minutes. Let rise for 90 minutes. Form braid, put on cookie sheet and sweep with a beaten egg. Let rise for 10 minutes. Put in fridge for 30 minutes and bake at 400 °F (200 °C) for 40 minutes.

The final product should look like this:

My personal hints:

This recipe calls explicitly for Active Dry Yeast. See here for a variant with Rapid Rise Yeast. It is quicker to prepare with Rapid Rise Yeast, but less tolerant regarding rising times.

The easiest way to soften the butter from the fridge is by putting it in the microwave for about 15 to 20 sec. It should get soft and warm, but not hot. Too hot ingredients in the dough destroy the yeast. Too cold ingredients slow the yeast down.

Adding liquids is a crucial thing in preparing dough with yeast. The really required quantity is depending on the flour. Therefore I add at first only about half of the quantity given in any recipe and mix the dough. I add the half of the remaining liquid once it is obvious that it is too dry. The last step gets repeated till I have dough which can be kneaded. The dough should absorb all the crumbs and not be sticky anymore.   
The liquid should be always warm - little more than lukewarm, but still touchable with the wrist. 

Kneading should be always done till it's done. Dough doesn't get better the more you knead it. Over-kneaded dough will have some sort of a strange rubbery structure. Best is to learn it from somebody already knowing the process. The basic movement is flattening the tough and fold it over. For instruction you can also stick to to that video.

When using Active Dry Yeast the raising can be done at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. Leave the sugar away when you plan to rise in the fridge. 
The raise of the Zopf is too long once it starts to grow more in width than in the height. The overall shape of the cross section should stay square size not rectangular size.

There are thousand instructions for braiding a Zopf in the net. So I add here instruction #1001, but this is how I explain it: 

  1. Make two dough rolls of approximately 18'' (45 cm) length. The bread gets the typical slightly tipped shape if you make the dough rolls also slightly tipped to the end.
  2. Lay the dough rolls in front of you as shown in the picture below
  3. Now come the rules:
    - you always do one step with both hands touching the same dough roll
    - the upper end goes diagonally across the layout to the lower opposite corner
    - the lower end goes diagonally across the layout to the upper opposite corner
    - the lower end goes always over the top end
    - start with the lower (black) dough roll for braiding

    So it should look like this:
    Step 1
    Step 2

  4. My braid is normally finished after about three to four steps. The ends of the dough rolls should be tucked firmly under the end of the braid. Avoid touching the braiding since it will destroy the shape in non-reparable way.

Ok, for those who are really seeking the challenge in braiding they can go through all the varieties shown here (in German only).

btw: There is also a version using Rapid Rise Yeast. It goes faster than this version, but needs more skills, is less fail save and give a result of slightly less quality.

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