It is March! March is a huge month in our house. My daughter, an Irish dancer, has the first three weeks pretty well booked with dancing all over the place. This week we head to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, for a double Feis (Irish dance competition). She is excited because the first day is an afternoon Feis which is HIGHLY unusual. Feis usually start between 8:00 am and 9:00 am on Saturdays or Sundays. We are not a morning people so this is tough for us because we usually have to be up at 6:00 am to be ready to go. Now this Feis is at 4:30 pm. Yes! Our time of day. On Sunday we will be heading to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for an International Festival. A few of the girls from my daughter’s class will be dancing in this so if you are in the area stop by!
So how did I get to Zopf bread, which is Swiss, from St. Patrick’s Day? My daughter’s Girl Scout troop chose Switzerland for their International Festival. Each girl was asked to make a dish or sweet that represents that country. We researched and found Zopf bread. Zopf means braid or plait, which perfectly describes this bread. It turned out so well I wanted to share this with you.
I am NOT a baker. Ask me to mix a bunch of things together to make a meal and I am fine. I am not good with the precision of baking. This was my daughter’s project so I left it up to her. They made three batches of the bread. Each time they got better and better. The bread looked so pretty in the end that a parent hired her to bake her two loaves of the bread to make into centerpieces for a dinner.
The bread is light with a slightly yeasty taste to it. This was a great first bread for my daughter to make as she now realizes it can be fairly simple to bake.
- 1 1/2 cups milk, warmed in saucepan to touch
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 package dry active yeast
- 3 3/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 egg, separated
- In a large bowl place the lukewarm milk, sugar and sprinkle the yeast over the mixture. Cover and let the yeast proof, it will take about 8-10 minutes. If your yeast does not bubble up, throw it away and start again. Your milk may have been too hot or cold and your bread will not rise properly.
- Add the egg yolk, salt, flour, and melted butter to the yeast. Mix well using a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.
- Dust a table or counter with flour and place the dough on the surface. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.
- Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces for one loaf or 6 equal pieces for 2 loaves.
- Roll each piece into a long tube of equal length. Braid the three pieces together to make a loaf. Pinch the ends together and curl them under.
- Grease a baking sheet and place each loaf on the sheet. Beat the egg white and brush over the top of the bread. Cover the cloth with a warm towel (fresh from the dryer is good) and place in a warm area for one hour until the dough doubles in size.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Brush the dough with egg whites again and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to sit at least 5 minutes before cutting.