Just in time for Easter – Hefezopf!

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How to make Hefezopf {yeast braid loaf}

We are now full swing into Autumn, and in our opinion one of the best periods in Brisbane! The weather is still warm, but not quite as hot and steamy as the summer months and Easter is on our doorstep.

Hefezopf {yeast braid} is a traditional Easter bread in Germany. This is a recipe from my mother, Mama Schnucki, who made this every year at Easter.

Growing up, Easter was always one of my favourite holiday periods and any time I make Hefezopf now, it is a nostalgic experience.

TIP: I always make a double batch for home and to share with the office.

Let’s get started!


I have included the Ingredients and Method below, but following is a helpful, step by step guide. Follow along with me.

We start with the Dampfl (see Method below for details on what a Dampfl is).

Add 2-3 tablespoons of flour in a bowl, and create a crater in the middle.

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Then add 30-40g of yeast in the middle.

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Heat up the milk so it is lukewarm and add 2-3 tablespoons of milk to the yeast, just so it is covered. Set aside for 20 – 30 minutes to prove.

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In the meantime add butter (room temperature is best) to a bowl and with a electronic mixer mix it into a smooth cream. Add the sugar and the lemon zest.

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Add the eggs to the bowl. I always like to add two extra egg yolks for a nice yellowy colour.

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With your electronic mixer mix until just about smooth.

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Have a look at your Dampfl, it would be bubbling by now and would have grown in size, it should look like this.

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In a bowl add your flour, create a crater in the middle and add your butter egg mixture and your Dampfl.

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I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, so I do this next part by hand, mixing it all together in a smooth bowl. Traditionally we add raisins and 1-2 vanilla beans as well. Knead mixture and slowly keep adding the lukewarm milk, you don’t want the dough to get too wet. You will know once it is done as it will no longer stick to your fingers or bowl.

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Cover with a damp cloth in a warm area and leave to rise for 1 hour.

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After 1 hour you will see the difference. Now lightly coat your work area with flour and place your Hefezopf dough on to it and cut into 3 then 6 even parts. I like to use a scale to make sure they are all the same weight.

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Roll out all pieces into 6 even long and thick strands.

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And start braiding, middle first then the outside in and so on and so forth.

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Keep braiding all the way to the end and tuck the ends neatly underneath.

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Now this looks pretty cool, however I realised that my braid will now no longer fit in the oven, so I had to make two, one for home one for the office.

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Here we have worked the dough pretty hard, so we will cover it once again with a damp cloth and let it rise for another 20 – 30 minutes, or until it has risen 1.5 – 2 time bigger than its original size.

While this is rising, pre-heat your oven (see ‘Method’ below, for details).

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Place the risen Hefezopf on a baking dish covered with baking paper and glaze with egg yolk. For a Hefezopf this size you might need up to 4 egg yolks.

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Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

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Once it has cooled down, feel free to decorate it with some Easter eggs and bunnies.

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Coat with butter and serve with coffee or tea.

Enjoy!


Ingredients

  • 1kg flour
  • 30 – 40g yeast
  • 160g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2-3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 160g sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 500ml lukewarm milk
  • Lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • Two handful of raisins
  • 2-4 egg yolk, lightly beaten (room temperature)

Method

Dissolve the yeast with 2-3 tablespoons lukewarm milk in a large mixing bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 2-3 tablespoons of flour, beat at low speed with an electric mixer until smooth and soft. You have now created the yeast mixture for your Hefezopf {yeast braid loaf}. This mixture is called a Dampfl. Place the Dampfl to the side in a warm location for 20 – 30 minutes to prove.

While the Dampfl is resting, beat the butter with electric mixer until smooth, add the eggs, sugar, salt and lemon peel mix well.

Place remaining flour in a large mixing bowl, create a crater in the middle, place butter mixture and Dampfl once it finished proving in the middle. Knead mixture, slowly keep adding milk again and again until the dough no longer sticks to your hands.

Once the dough no longer sticks to your hands place, set it aside for 1 hour in a warm area, covered with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out until the dough has doubled in size.

When the dough has risen to twice its size that it was originally, dust a work area with flour and take it out of the bowl and divide it in to 6 even parts. With your hands roll out these 6 pieces into 6 evenly thick long strands. Here a step by step guide of how to braid with 6 strands:

  1. To begin, hold the 6 strands so that there are 3 in each hand.
  2. The outside right strand is the first to be moved. Bring it over the middle right hand strand, under the inside right hand strand and transfer it to the left hand.
  3. There are now two right hand strands and four left hand strands.
  4. Now it is the outside left strand that will be moved. Bring that strand under the adjacent strand, over the next strand, and under the inside left strand. Transfer it to the right hand.
  5. Note that there are again 3 strands in each hand. One cycle of the braid has been completed.
  6. Continue step 1-5 until the end and tuck the ends neatly under the now completed Hefezopf.

Cover a baking tray (that is large enough) with a baking paper and place the Hefezopf on it. Cover the Hefezopf with a tightly wrung out damp cloth and allow to it to rise for the second time. It will take about 20-30 minutes and the dough should be 1.5 – 2 time bigger than its original size.

In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 200C.

Once the Hefezopf has risen, glaze the dough evenly with the beaten egg yolk. Decorate the dough with nib sugar (Nib sugar is a product of refined white sugar. The sugar is very coarse, hard, opaque white, and does not melt at temperatures. It is typically used for baking.) I personally don’t use it.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

TIP: the more eggs you add to the dough the nicer the colour of it will be, however make sure to ever so slightly increase the flour.


Von unserer Familie zu deiner

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Kim Zoulek
Festival Director & Creative


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We hope that our recipes inspire you and we want to see your own creations! Please feel free to share images of your Hefezopf on our Facebook page HERE. Every creation from our family recipes that you post, will go into the draw for 2 tickets to Oktoberfest Brisbane 2017 (a winner will be drawn at the end of every month).