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.
Keyword bread, Swiss
Prep Time 40minutes
Cook Time 30minutes
2pkgdry yeast4 1/2 teaspoons
1/2CButterplus some for brushing top
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.
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.
Fasten ends and tuck under securely. Repeat the process with second half.
Brush the braided dough with softened butter, cover with damp cloth and let rise until double -- 40-50 minutes.
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.
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.