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Fluffiest Challah Bread (Swiss Zopf)

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Level: Intermediate

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Description

Slow and mellow Sunday mornings just like in Switzerland—you can have them with our traditional Swiss Zopf recipe. It is like the fluffiest challah bread!

Ingredients

  • ½ sticks Butter
  • 1-¼ cup Whole Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Fine Caster Sugar
  • 1 package (1/4 Oz. Packet) Dry Active Yeast
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1-½ teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
  • 1  Egg, Beaten
  • Poppy Seeds For Sprinkling (optional)

Preparation

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in milk and sugar.

Place dried yeast into a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons of the milk mixture. Stir well, cover losely and let stand for 5 minutes. It should bubble up and become sponge-like in texture.

Place flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the middle and pour in the activated yeast.

Pour in about 1/3 of the milk mixture and stir in just enough of the flour to form a wet dough. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Again, it should rise into a puffed up sponge.

Add salt and remaining milk mixture. Knead in your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment on low speed for 8 minutes. Rest for 1 minute. Knead on medium speed for 4 minutes. Rest for another minute. If the dough still rips apart easily, knead on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, otherwise medium will do.

Check using the windowpane test if your gluten has developed enough. (Stretch dough until very thin. You should be able to stretch it thin enough to almost see through it, like a windowpane, without tearing the dough.) If not, keep kneading. If it has, shape the dough into a ball, place back into the bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel.

Let the dough rise until doubled in volume, at least 1 hour but preferably 2 hours (depending on your altitude, higher altitude makes for a quicker rise).

Once dough has risen, remove it onto your work surface. For one large braid, divide it into two equal pieces. Roll into long-ish strands and braid. Otherwise, weigh out 2 1/2 ounce (72g) portions of the dough and make mini two-strand challas. Pinch their ends together to form rolls.

Place challah on a lined baking sheet. Cover with the towel and let rise and relax for another 15 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Once bread is ready, brush it well with beaten egg. You can sprinkle it with poppy seeds (or sesame) if you like.

Bake large challah bread for 25–30 minutes, small ones for 12–15 minutes. They will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom and have a nice golden brown crust.

Allow to cool on a rack. Best eaten warm with butter and honey!

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