The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Chouette22 posted a couple of weeks ago pictures of her Zopf ( In a reply to my post she mentioned that eggs in this bread would make it dryer or stale faster. This motivated me to experiment with my recipe, with the goal to have at the end a fully understood, easy to use and "Americanized" recipe.

To have a solid and accepted expert on my side I used Dan DiMuzio's book, "Bread Baking" to support my testing. On page 138 he defines rich dough and the effect of fat, eggs and sugar in dough. This was a good start as Zopf has all this ingredients in it. Sugar seems to be the least influential with just a little bit more than 2%, but butter (11%) eggs (14%) and to some degree milk(fat) certainly do have an impact. I also wanted to see what the difference between AP and Bread flour would be.

Zopf is the favorite bread of my younger son, so he was very supportive of this idea. He promised his friends in school to bring an entire loaf for lunch and that this bread would beat every other dad's bread. I don't know how many other dads of his friends are baking but I like that it is embedded in him that not only moms are baking and cooking.   

Using my usual recipe I had to adjust the hydration significantly using AP flour otherwise the dough would have been too wet to braid. The final result was ok from an appearance perspective but did taste too much like "normal" white bread and with the additional flour was also much dryer.

Not adding the eggs was a little bit trickier. Eggs are contributing to the hydration but also add fat and strength to the dough. I decided to substitute 75 % of the egg weight with ¾ milk and ¼ water. The dough turned out wetter than usual and I had a difficult time to roll the two strands for braiding. The final bread had less oven spring and turned out a little bit less roundish than usual. The crumb was denser and whither in color. The taste of the bread was even more like white bread.

It seems to me that adding eggs makes Zopf heavier and gives it the crumb structure I like. It also allows for more liquid without impacting the final result.

I will stick with my ingredients but have changed the process to make it easier to assemble the dough. First I add butter, salt (to make sure I don't' forget it again) and brown sugar, zero out the scale, add hot water to soften the butter, then the two eggs and with the cold milk I get to the correct total amount of liquid to balance the varying weight of the eggs. After that I add the flour and the yeast and knead 3 to 4 min on speed one and another couple of minutes, depending on how the dough develops, on speed two of my KitchenAid. 3 stretch and folds with 45 min rest, after the 3rd st&f I divide the dough, braid it and proof for 20 min. Bake for 25 min at 375˚F (convection). The bread should reach 200˚F interior temperature.


And here the final result:

For those interested in the recipe you can print or download it here:

The spreadsheet lets you adjust the final dough weight.

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One of my favorite bread is the "Basler Brot" or bread of Basel. It is a Swiss cantonal bread and as I was born in Basel of course I favor this over other cantonal breads like the bread of St. Gall, or of the Ticino. An exception is the rye bread from the Valais, the Walliser Brot, as I spent the other half of my younger years in this region.

If you belief the history than this bread was the first time mentioned in 1792 in a bread book. And still as of today it is the runner in many bakeries in Switzerland.

The shape is longish oval and it is always baked as two loafs sticking together at the front. For all of you who have difficulties with scoring, this is the bread to go, because it has none. I also like the dark rather thick crust which gives it the wonderful taste.

The oven temperatures from the old days with the wood fired ovens are not attainable in a private household environment, but I was able to get good results with 550˚F during the steam period and finishing the bake with 450˚F.



 TFL Crumb Shot

Unfortunately I was not able to copy paste the adapted recipe as it is in table form and TFL doesn't allow to import published spreadsheets/*.xps files. But for those who are interested I have a printable version and an Excel version on my blog. Due to the higher ash content of European flour I have adapted the recipe to American flour and reduced the hydration to 68% instead of the 80%. The Excel spreadsheet let's you change the final dough amount, default is 1500 grams.


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A week ago I came back from my camping trip to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. It is not the first time that we are in Yooper country with our travel trailer, it was a little bit on the colder side but camping and fishing was great fun.

Before I left I forgot to feed my two starters (St.Clair, 100%, rye, and SanFran, 100%, AP) so all the tree weeks I was wondering if the two would survive and forgive my negligence. Coming home both had still a good smell but looked a little shaky. I started feeding them twice in 24 hours. The rye starter rebounded immediately and after four feeds I put it back in the fridge. SanFran took a little bit longer and after it tripled again as I was used too, I decide to bake some bread to make sure it is ok again. I was very pleased with the result and also SanFran went back in storage.




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