So, you guys know when you’re really torn between two things? Like, I don’t know, snickers or mars? Or cookies vs chocolate cake? And you know that one would certainly be the wiser option but then the other one just seems sooo good? It’s the same thing with this recipe. This, is called a Hefezopf (German for yeast braid) and I wanted to make proper pictures and style them and make them look all pretty to go with the recipe but then my camera ran out of battery and I could not find the charger anywhere and as fast as I could look, the cake got eaten and it was like “pictures or it didn’t happen” so I basically HAD to use my phone. The reason why I am posting this is that this is a special easter bread in Germany and easter is in two days so I really wanted to do something that fits the theme at least a little bit. So, no styling but an easy (although a bit time-consuming) recipe that will guarantee you bakery-style sweet bread and lots of aahs and oohs from your friends :). And the best: no mixer!!! My grandma surely knows what she’s doing and this recipe is the ultimate proof.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and give it a quick stir to incorporate everything.
Add the eggs, milk and melted butter. First mix it roughly with the spoon, then use your hands to knead it into a dough ball. Once you have an incorporated dough ball, knead it on the floured worksurface / table for at least 10 minutes (important because you really want the dough to rise well.
Form two equally sized doughballs (this recipe will yield two braids) and place them in a warm place covered with a clean dishtowel. Let rise for ca. 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
Seperate one dough ball into three equally sized balls. Roll each ball with your hands until it is a long strand/sausage/whatever you wanna call it of dough. Do the same with the other balls. Then, stick the three strands together at one end and braid them. Stick them together at the other end (just press down on the dough until it holds together. Transfer the braid to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let it rest for another 15 minutes.
Cover it with an eggwash (you can use the back site of a spoon or, even better, a small brush if you have one) and bake at 180°C / 350°F for about 45 minutes (in case it gets brown cover with aluminium foil. Let it cool down completely before eating.
Doesn’t it look so bakery-ish? We like to eat it plain. Or with butter and jam. Or Nutella. Enjoy and happy easter!!
German Hefezopf (sweet easter braided bread)
If you want only one, just use half of the recipe!
This is what you need
1 kg flour
2 packages instant yeast
150 g sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs (at room temperature)
400 ml milk (at room temperature)
150 g butter (melted in the microwave)
For the egg wash: 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of water, mixed together with a fork
And this is how we do it:
1. an hour before you start, set out the milk and eggs on the counter (why this is important is written in the notes.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl
3. Microwave the butter till it’s all melted, BUT it shouldn’t be hot, only hand warm (see notes)
4. Add eggs, milk and butter to the dry ingredients, mix with a spoon.
5. using your hands, knead the ingredients into a uniform dough. Once it’s uniform, take it out of the bowl, splatter some flour on your work surface/table and knead the dough for a full 10 minutes.
6. When doing the whole recipe, split the dough into two equal balls and transfer each of them to a bowl that has some flour in the bottom. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for at least 2 hrs or until doubled in size.
7. Take one of the dough balls and knead it a little bit. Seperate it into three equal balls
8. Roll the balls between your hands into three ropes/sausages (approx. 30-40 cm / 11-15 inches long).
9. Stick the three ropes together at one end, then braid them and stick them together at the other end (you can simply use your fingers and press them against each other until they stick). Place them on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick parchment paper.
Let rest for another 15 minutes, after 12 minutes pre-heat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F.
10. Cover the braid with the egg wash. Pop into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes (if it becomes too brown, cover with aluminium foil). After 45 minutes, turn off the oven and let the braid sit in the warm oven for another 5 minutes.
Let them cool down and enjoy plain or with butter and jam or Nutella. Hmmmmmm.
Best enjoyed fresh, can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container (!!) for a few days.
* If milk and eggs get to get to room temperature this will enable your yeast to rise properly (the yeast bacteria like it warm and sugary, just like us basically). Same goes for melting the butter. Warm butter will cause the yeast to activate and rise, if it’s too hot, however, the yeast might get “shocked” and won’t rise properly then.
* kneading is really really important because it allows small pockets of air to form into the dough. Just like us, the yeast also needs air to work
*The egg wash will make your dough shine just like the bakery breads. You can either use a kitchen brush to brush it on (waay more professional), but the backside of a teaspoon also works.
This is my own recipe. Please do not use it commercially without my permission. When using it on your blog, please re-write it in your own words and link it to the source to give proper credit :). Thanks!