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A Swiss Braid for Sunday Brunch

Audrey's Recipes

Swiss bread
Photo courtesy: My Switzerland

Recipe courtesy of MySwitzerland.com

If you love bread, Switzerland is the country for you. There are over 200 different traditional breads, including 22 special cantonal bread varieties. When in Zurich, you might want to try Seri’s baguettes or croissants. A very popular bread, which you get everywhere in Switzerland, is a soft white loaf called “Zopf”. The dough is made from white flour, milk, eggs, butter and yeast, plaited into a braid and then brushed with egg yolk before baking. It’s traditionally eaten on Sunday mornings.

A Swiss Sunday brunch, though, without a Bernese plaited loaf is like Christmas without presents. The bread is especially delicious when you make it yourself and enjoy it warm from the oven. This plaited loaf originates from Bern and used to be baked as a Christmas or New Year gift. Today it is known and enjoyed throughout Switzerland, especially as part of a big, leisurely breakfast. The attractive plaited form isn’t altogether easy to achieve, but by following the instructions carefully you can soon master it.

Zopf bread


Preparation time: approx. 40 minutes
Rising time:
approx. 2 hours
Baking time:
approx. 40 minutes

Makes 1 loaf of approx. 1 1/2 kg or 2 loaves of approx. 750 g

1 kg white flour
1 tablespoon salt make a well in the centre
1 cube yeast (approx. 42g), crumbled
1 tablespoon sugar
500 ml milk, lukewarm pour yeast mixture into the well, stir to a thin liquid consistency, sprinkle with a little flour. Leave till the liquid froths (approx. 10 minutes)
140 g butter, soft, in pieces add to bowl, mix, turn onto work surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes to make a soft, smooth dough. Cover and leave for approx. 1 1/2 hours at room temperature until doubled in size
1 small egg, beaten for glazing
3 tablespoons single cream mix 1 tablespoon with the beaten egg, cover and chill. Put 2 tablespoons cream in a small bowl

Shape: Divide dough in half, shape each half into a roll approx. 70 cm long, thinning slightly towards the ends. Lay one roll crosswise over the other on the work surface.

Fold the end of the bottom roll of dough (blue) from top right to bottom left. Fold the opposite end of the roll from bottom left to top right.

step 1 in shaping the Zopf plait

Take the ends of the other roll (white) and fold them from top left to bottom right and from bottom right to top left.

step 2 in shaping the Zopf plait

Fold the end of the other roll (blue) from top right to bottom left. Fold the opposite end of the roll from bottom left to top right. Fold the ends of the other roll (white) from top left to bottom right and from bottom right to top left. Continue in this way.

step 3 in shaping the Zopf plait

Transfer plait to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, brush with cream, leave to rise for approx. 30 minutes, glaze with egg-cream mixture.

Bake: Approximately 40 minutes on the bottom shelf of oven preheated to 200 °C. Remove, cool on wire rack.


  • Make it easier: halve the dough before kneading. Knead, and leave to rise, in two halves.
  • For 2 plaits, the rolls will be shorter, approx. 50 cm long. Reduce baking time by approx. 5 minutes.

Keeping time: Yeast bread is best eaten fresh.

Per 100 g: 10 g fat, 10 g protein, 49 g carbohydrate, 1387 kJ (332 kcal)

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