Swiss New Year Bread

Bake Swiss New Year Bread

Happy New Year

Helen Stuckey Bair Kohler

I’ll admit that I am a little late in wishing you a Happy New Year with this Swiss New Year Bread. I hope that I will get back to regular blogging, and intend to start with a collection of recipes that I used over the holidays.

Welcome back and thanks for reading.

Way back in November 2016, I shared a bread recipe used by my husband’s grandmother, Helen Kohler and his mother Agnes Badertscher. They used this incredibly delicious bread dough to make either rolls, loaf bread or coffee cake. My husband’s sister, Kay, told me that Grandma Kohler called it New Year Bread.

That seemed odd, because when I looked up Swiss New Year bread, I saw images of a braided loaf, and Granda Kohler, as far as we could remember, did not make braided bread. However, when I checked the Mennonite Cookbook that I like to refer to for traditional Swiss Mennonite recipes, I found a recipe for a braided New Year Bread that was very similar to Grandma Kohler’s recipe.

Sonnenberg Mennonite Cook Book
A collection of recipes from the Mennonite community where my husband grew up.

What is Zupfa?

In the Sonnenberg cookbook, I discovered a bread titled Zupfa And as is the rule in small communities like the Wayne County Ohio Mennonite community, my husband immediately recognized the name of the recipe contributor. Mrs. Merl Lehman, in fact is married to one of his not-too distant cousins.

I compared the two recipes–Grandma Kohler’s and cousin Mrs. Lehman’s Zupfa. The main difference between the two was that Grandma’s recipe included 1/2 cup of sugar. Additionally, she mixed the yeast with some sugar and water to proof it before mixing it in whereas Mrs. Lehman, mixed her yeast with the dry ingredients. And the Zupfa is a braided loaf that takes more than four hours to complete when you include all the waiting for multiple rising periods.

And what is Zupfa? As you may have suspected, Swiss New Year’s bread — a braided white bread.

Bread is Simple/Bread is Complicated

Note: Everyone makes bread with the same basic ingredients: flour, salt, yeast and water. However, it is amazing how many variations of bread exist by tweaks to that basic recipe. (For instance check out this very simple peasant bread). You can add eggs or shortening/butter, milk instead of water, or sugar. And of course there are a multiplicity of flour types, and you can add in fruit, nuts and seeds to the finished product. The shapes are different, the way you handle the dough, how many times it rises–all these variations to the simple basic four ingredients can make an enormous difference.

Swiss New Year Bread
Swiss New Year Bread (Zupfa) braided dough before baking.


I think some people don’t try baking bread because bread making involves a kind of “baby sitting.” You can’t just mix up some stuff, pour it in a pan and put it in the oven. Zupfa particularly demonstrates that challenge. Although the work is not extensive, the baby sitting takes up more than three hours.

So here you have Swiss New Year’s Bread (Zupfa). Just remember:

  1. Start early. (If you are in a hurry, bake the Peasant bread I linked above.)
  2. Don’t be afraid of the braiding process. It probably won’t be perfect the first time–or in my case–ever.
  3. I watched a couple of You Tube videos on braiding bread, and recommend you look for the King Arthur Flour video lesson. Plus a tip from another video–always pick up the bottom strand to fold over to the center.
  4. You’ll notice if you are searching for tips on braiding bread, that you get a lot of challah recipes. The breads are very similar in appearance.
Swiss New Year Bread/Zupfa
Print

Swiss New Year Bread (Zupfa)

The Swiss New Year Bread (Zupfa) is not as complicated as you might think, but it does take a long time to make because of several risings–so plan ahead.
Course Bread
Cuisine Swiss
Keyword bread, Swiss
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting/Rising 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 32

Ingredients

  • 2 pkg dry yeast 4 1/2 teaspoons
  • 6-7 C flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 C Milk whole
  • 1/2 C Butter plus some for brushing top
  • 3 eggs for dough
  • 1 egg for glaze
  • 2 tsp water for glaze

Instructions

  • Mix 3 Cups of flour, yeast and salt in large bowl.
  • Heat milk with butter over low heat until just warm. If you are using an instand thermometer, you are shooting for 110-115 degrees. (I think of it as the temperature of baby’s bath water.) Mrs. Lehman adds that the butter does not have to completely melt.
  • Gradually add liquids to dry ingredients in bowl, Beat either by hand or electric mixer for at least two minutes.
  • Add one cup of flour and blend in.
  • Beat eggs slightly and add to the batter. Beat at high speed for two minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.  
  • Keep adding flour to handle easily, and stir in until no flour is visible. 
  • Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead until smooth–five to ten minutes.
  • Grease another large bowl (or scrape out all remnants from mixing bowl and reuse).  Shape dough in ball and turn it in the bowl so all sides are shiny with the butter. Leave sooth side up, cover with cloth or plastic wrap and let rise until double–about 1 1/2 hours.
  • Punch down gently, cover and let rise again until double–30-40 minutes.
  • Turn the dough out on board and divide in two parts.  Make two rounds and let it rest 10-15 minutes.
    Half of dough for Swiss New Year bread
  • Divide in two parts, and set one half aside, covered.  Divide the half into three equal parts and roll each into a 14″ strand.
  • Using the three strands, place close together on lightly greased baking sheet. Braid the stands gently and loosely. Do not stretch.
    Braiding of bread
  • Fasten ends and tuck under securely.  Repeat the process with second half.
    Swiss New Year Bread
  • Brush the braided dough with softened butter, cover with damp cloth and let rise until double — 40-50 minutes.
    Bread dough buttered
  • Brush with egg yolk glaze and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. (190 degrees on instant thermometer inserted in center)  Let rest on pan for ten minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.  When totally cool, wrap tightly for storage or freezing if you are not eating the bread immediately.
    Swiss New Year Bread

Notes

Mrs. Lehman called for 7 1/4 to 7 1/2 cups of flour, which I found excessive. 
I put the bowl of dough  into an unheated oven with just the oven light on and that worked very well for the first rising periods. Just remember not to preheat the oven, until you get to the point where the braided dough is rising. You will let it rise on the counter or near but not on the stovetop while the oven heats.
When I was braiding the first loaf, at first I did not get the strands close enough together as I braided, so I had large lumps. It was not hard to unbraid it and start again.  Of course you can make the loaf longer and skinnier or shorter and fatter as you wish.
I added the 1/2 cup of sugar to the recipe because I thought a slightly sweet taste would be appropriate for this special bread.
Finally, I have to mention that I apparently let the braided dough rise a bit too long.  If you look at the final picture with the instructions you will see some strange strands. That is the sign of what is called over-proofing. Had I been aware, I could have corrected it by starting over with the shaping. Honestly, I don’t think the problem was serious enough to do all that, but it is handy to know that you can correct the problem and get a pretty loaf.
 
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Travel Photo Amazes

Ben and Nettie Anderson

Ben and Nettie Anderson (My grandfather Guy’s Brother)

I have featured this sweet picture before. It shows my great-uncle Ben Anderson and his bride, Nettie. Ben has an interesting life story, and you can read about him by following the link above.

Recently, I re-discovered two more pictures of Ben and his family, vacationing in St. Augustine, Florida in January 1910. They went to the photographer’s studio to capture a travel photo. I hope they enjoyed St. Augustine as much as we did when we visited it about 75 years later. Although we were definitely attracted by different things.

No wonder Ohioans flocked to Florida for vacations.  What an exotic place! Alligators! Oranges on trees!

Ben Anderson - Florida

Ben Anderson, St. Augustine Florida January 1910

Ben Anderson family, Florida 1910

Ben, Estil and Nettie Anderson, Florida 1910

If you read my story of Ben Anderson’s life, you’ll see the irony in this picture of his family picking oranges. You see, Ben was an Ohio farmer who grew apples! Making this a busman’s holiday, as it were.

These travel photos reflect a theme of photographer’s studios in the early 20th century.  The photos are printed on a light cardstock, and the back is printed with sections for a message and an address as a postcard. The photographers created elaborate scenes starring their customers.

Neither of these postcards had been mailed.  The writing on the backs of the cards include a note that could have been from Nettie giving the date and place.  Other notes with names were written by my grandmother, my mother and by me.

Sadly, Nettie died in August 1911.

See other family travel photos with Will Stout and Maude Stout at the beach.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Acorn Squash Pudding and Pie

acorn squash pudding

Acorn squash pudding serving with whipped cream.

Tired of Pumpkin Everything?

Thanksgiving is coming at us fast.  Along with all the traditional recipes, I like to find something new every year.  Here’s a dessert recipe that gives pumpkin a rest. And really, aren’t you about ready to scream if you hear pumpkin-flavored anything one more time?

Pssst!  Don’t tell the traditionalist, but I liked it BETTER than the very similar pumpkin dessert.

I love acorn squash. Spit them, take the seeds out, put honey and butter and nutmeg in the center–and maybe some sliced apples or applesauce, and bake them in a dish with some water in the bottom. But how about an acorn squash dessert?

Unfortunately, my husband does not share my appreciation of this long-lasting winter squash.  When I serve him a wedge of acorn squash, he scoops out a shallow spoonful, but leaves a good 1/2 inch in the shell.

And he does not have seconds.

LEFTOVERS

So if I bake acorn squash, I’m going to have leftovers.  And you know my opinion of leftovers, don’t you?  MAKE SOMETHING WITH THEM.

Which led to a quest for a good recipe for acorn squash pudding.  Along the way, I found the site, Historic Foodie, and this article on how early Americans used squash. Another article at the same site lists  all the squashes common in various parts of the country in the 17th and 18th century. (Acorn was known, but not common.)

Most recipe sites wanted me to make a pie out of the squash, but I was feeling lazy and just wanted to baked a pudding.  However, when I found a recipe for a streusel-topped acorn squash pie, I knew I had to try it — minus the pie crust. You can also just pour it into a pre-baked pie shell for a substitute for pumpkin pie. Simple and absolutely DELICIOUS!

My husband, the acorn-squash avoider is eating it up!

squash pudding

Acorn squash pudding in deep casserole

Note: I am switching to a new recipe  display, so bear with me as I experiment.  I welcome all comments on how the recipes look, or how to make them more useful for you,

squash pudding
Print

Acorn Squash Pudding

When you are tired of pumpkin everything, make a streusel-topped pudding or a pie filling from acorn squash.
Course Dessert
Keyword pudding
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked acorn squash
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp spices See Note
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup evaporated milk

Streusel Topping

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter chilled
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds

Instructions

  • Scoop squash out of shell and remove seeds. Mash or process in food processor.
  • Mix all ingredients in large bowl and beat until smooth.
  • Pour into 7" wide, deep casserole and bake one-half hour at 350 degrees. (To ensure even cooking, put casserole in larger shallow pan with an inch of water.)

Streusel Topping

  • Mix flour and sugar. Cut butter in small pieces.  Work butter into flour/sugar mixture with your fingers.  When you have small crumbs, stir in nuts. Set aside until the first half-hour baking is finished.
  • After half hour, pull casserole out of oven and sprinkle the streusel on top of the pudding. Put casserole back and bake an additional half hour--or until knife inserted in center comes out almost clean. (With smaller diameter casserole, the streusel will be deep and the baking will take longer than for a shallow dish or in a pie.)

Notes

SPICES:  You can use pumpkin pie spices or blend cinnamon and nutmeg.  I used a lebkuchengewuerz spice recipe left over from making the German Christmas cookies.
PIE:  To use this recipe in a pie, put pudding into a pre-baked pie shell. Bake 25 minutes at 375 degrees, then add streusel and bake another 25 minutes, tenting the top with foil if necessary to keep it from getting too brown.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email