The Germans are worldly famous for their bread and their love of bread. You can find a bakery at every corner of every little town, and locals line up on Sunday mornings to get their freshly baked bread fix.
I love bread myself, and I’ve always enjoyed making them. The thought of making bread from scratch may sound intimidating and daunting at first, but don’t fret – it’s not as hard as it seems. In fact, it’s not hard at all, and this recipe is a great way to start. It doesn’t require hours of proofing or dozens of important details to watch out for like brioche does. So as far as bread making goes, this one is fairly simple and beginner friendly, and you’ll be able to eat it warm, fresh out of the oven in just about two hours.
This recipe is adapted from an adapted version – hmm, excuse me?. It originally comes from Luisa Weiss’s “Rosinenzopf ”recipe from her cookbook Classic German Baking, but I found this version on this blog. It worked out great, because the original recipe call for raisins, and if there’s one thing I cannot bring myself to eat is raisins. I’m open to try anything when it comes to food, but I just don’t understand raisins. They have the weirdest texture and such an overpowering taste that immediately throws me off, as soon as it hits my tastebuds. It’s always a terrible surprise biting into a carrot muffin only to be bombarded with all that overwhelming flavour. Anyway, back to the matter at hand.
So I just skipped the raisins or any substitute altogether. I also didn’t have any pearl sugar, but sprinkled it with shredded coconut, mostly for aesthetics, because it makes no difference in taste, which only proves how forgiving and adaptable this recipe is. The final result is a very soft and slightly sweet bread that goes wonderfully with butter or jam and of course, a cup of coffee. Make sure to properly store it overnight as to not dry out.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Warm the milk up a little. (not hot, just warm enough to activate the yeast – test it with your finger)
Add the yeast to the milk and let it rest for about five minutes – I used fresh yeast. I usually start the process this way because the warm milk moistens the yeast and it begins to grow immediately, making the bread more soft and fluffy later on.
In a different bowl combine the milk and eggs, giving them a quick mix. Add the mixture to the milk and yeast, along with the sugar and salt.
Mix in the flour and then slice in the room temperature butter.
Hand mix the dough until it all comes together. It should form a loose, sticky ball.
Now the hard work comes in. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for 10 to 15 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Work it with your hands, forming it into a ball, pressing it down and reshaping it. Continue doing so until the dough is no longer as sticky.
Put the kneaded dough into a clean bowl, and cover with a dishcloth or plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour in a draft-free warm spot. It should double in size.
When the dough has risen, dump it out of the bowl and onto the counter. Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces and roll them out into 16 inch strands. Lay them next to each other, squish them together at one end, then braid the length of the strand. Press the other end so they stay together, and tuck up under the end.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the braided loaf on it, cover with a cloth, and let it rise for 20 minutes in a warm, draft-free space.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine 1 egg yolk and 1 tbs of milk in a small bowl to make an egg wash and brush over the whole braid and sprinkle pearl sugar on top.
Bake for 25 minutes, and it’s getting too brown at this point, lay a piece of foil over the loaf. Bake an additional 5 minutes. ( I had mine baking for about 40 minutes, so it really depends on your over. The crust does get brown quite quickly though, so I turned down the temperature after 20 minutes)
Let it cool on a rack and you’re done!
Practically a German grandma.