Tuesday, May 24, 2011
My mother informed me that my sister has taken to baking Challah pretty much weekly and sharing it with her. In Germany we grew up with Zopf, a very slightly sweetened yeast bread that I most remember as delicious when slightly stale and dunked into coffee. It is similar to Challah in that it is a braided bread made with eggs, but I believe that Challah usually includes more eggs, is not sweetened and is made with water rather than milk. There are several versions of Zopf, the fancier ones including a hazelnut filling and a thin glaze of water and confectioner's sugar. This one is the basic Zopf, which I adapted from a recipe I found online.
Zopf (Braided Breakfast Bread) 1 loaf, recipe easily doubled
1 1/3 cups milk, warmed (or scalded and cooled to warm, if you prefer)
1/2 tsp salt
1-1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp granulated yeast (1 package)
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp softened butter
3 1/2 cups bread flour
grated rind of one lemon
for the egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp water
sugar for sprinkling if desired
In a large bowl, stir the salt and the sugar into the warmed milk and sprinkle with the yeast. When the yeast is foamy, add the egg yolk, the butter, the lemon rind and 2 cups of the flour. Mix well by hand or with a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add the remaining flour a bit at a time until you have a smooth, fairly stiff dough that pulls away from the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a bit until it is smooth and elastic
Divide the dough into three equal pieces and roll each piece into a 14" long rope. Braid the pieces together, pinching the ends together well and tucking them under. Place the loaf on a greased baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until not quite doubled, 30-60 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oven to 425 degrees (220 degrees Celsius).
In a small bowl, make an egg wash of the yolk and water and brush on the loaf. Sprinkle with sugar (if you decide to use a confectioner's sugar glaze, do it after the loaf is baked and cooled!); bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden.