It is a traditional Sunday bread and it's said it's origin is coming from a custom whereby widows cut off their braided hair and buried them with their husbands. Later on they buried a bread loaf in this shape instead of their hair. This bread has been known in Switzerland since the middle of the 15th Century.
We like to eat late on Sundays and have a Brunch instead of breakfast. Most often my people scream for a Zopf....
1 kg strong bread flour
1 Tbsp Salt
150 g soft Butter
14 g of dried Yeast (or 42 g fresh Yeast)
500 ml warm Milk
1 Egg and 1 Tbsp Oil for the glaze
I usually work the dough with my trusty kitchen machine, but you can make it also by hand.
Pour the flour in to a bowl. Add the soft butter cut into pieces into the middle of this mixture. Sprinkle the dried yeast into some of the warm milk (please be careful not to make it too hot!) The fresh yeast can be dissolved with a little sugar. Add this to the flour and then add the rest of the warm milk.
Mix this all together and knead to an elastic dough. Once the dough comes together add the salt and go on kneading. With a kitchen machine it only needs 5-10 minutes. By hand it might need longer, the dough will have some air bubbles if cut into it.
Leave covered in an oiled bowl for at least 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
Put the dough on a floured surface and cut into two pieces. Roll out these pieces into rectangles of the same size and roll them up tightly. You have now two long "sausages" of the same length. Roll them a little, so that the ends are slightly thinner.
Now follow the hand drawn picture if you want a traditional Swiss braiding style Zopf with two dough rolls.
Don't get discouraged if it does not look nice the first time. It looks easy but it needs practice.
Brush with a mixture of one egg and 1 tbsp oil; this will give the bread a nice golden shine.
Then bake at 200 C for 45 minutes.
Have a wonderful Sunday with the Swiss Sunday Zopf!