Zopf: US Recipe Conversion Tips

November 23, 2008
by Silvia

Our recipe conversion tips for making a successful zopf in the U.S.

Since our original posting on How To Make Zopf appeared, we have received a number of conversion questions from our readers in the U.S. – and rightfully so!

There are always a number of issues to consider, which can affect the outcome of most recipes. Different measurement standards (U.S. system of weights vs. British system vs. metric system), temperatures (C vs. F), and ingredients are the major factors to think about when reviewing a recipe.

Measurement and temperature conversions are easy enough to find or calculate, but the ingredients often require some special considerations. This is also true with our original zopf recipe as we discovered last year while attempting to make a fresh zopf in the U.S.

Here’s how we converted the recipe and produced a successful and tasty version of zopf:  

U.S. Zopf Recipe (half-recipe amount)

17 ounces (4 1/2-cups) flour
1/2 Tbl. salt
1/2 Tbl. sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
2 1/4 ounces butter
1/4 ounce active dry yeast
one egg yolk mixed with 2 spoons milk

yield: 2 loaves weighing about 2/3 pound each

The Flour: This will be your first, and perhaps most important decision. We had good results using 4 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/2-cup bread flour. We calculated the weight of the flour to equal and average of 120 grams for one cup (4 1/2-ounces per cup). Since flours vary in their weight, it may be necessary to adjust the flour level up or down slightly to compensate for any weight differences.

The Yeast: Our original recipe calls for fresh yeast, which is easily available in Switzerland, but quite a challenge to find in the U.S. Dry active yeast can be substituted very easily in our recipe by using 40% of the weight of fresh yeast (example: .40 * 16 ounces = 6.5 ounces). Dry yeast must also be dissolved in 4 times its weight of warm water or milk (110 degrees F). For our recipe, dissolve the dry yeast in 1/4-cup warm milk (slightly more than body temperature) with the sugar.

The Milk: We use full fat milk in Switzerland. In the U.S., we had the best results when using a quality organic full fat milk.

The Butter: We recommend using a good quality, high-fat (80% minimum) sweet butter for a fresh tasting butter zopf. If you use salted butter, then be sure to reduce the amount of salt in the recipe to 1/2 teaspoon instead of 1/2 tablespoon.

Salt: We successfully used kosher salt in our experiments, although sea salt would also work well. Normal table salt has a significant chemical after-taste, which we found offensive.

Eggs: We do not use eggs in our recipe, because we believe it produces a heavier bread.

Baking Temperature: Bake the zopf at 390 degrees F for about 30-35 minutes.

We hope this will help any U.S. zopf makers…and we certainly would appreciate hearing back from anyone to share their experiences or tips!