Sonntag, November 13, 2011

Zopf - Swiss Braided Sunday Bread w/ Rapid Rise Yeast

This is the way I make the Zopf with US ingredients:

1 lbs      500 g     White Flour
1 packet             Fleischmann's Rapid Rise 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

Mix flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add softened butter to the mix. Poor warmed milk into the dough till it becomes a consistency that it can be kneaded. Knead for about eight minutes. Let rise for 10 minutes. Form braid, put on cookie sheet and sweep with a beaten egg. Let rise again for 20 minutes. Bake at 400 °F (200 °C).

The final product should look like this:

My personal hints:

This recipe calls explicitly for Rapid Rise Yeast. I prefer the variant with Active Dry Yeast. It takes longer to prepare, gets more delicious and has is more tolerant regarding rising times. You can let it rise also over night in the fridge.

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 Rapid Raise Yeast the first raise should only be about 10 minutes. The second raise should be about 20 minutes. 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 the 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).


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