We recently discovered a bread called Zopf, the first time we made it was as a crayfish bread (slightly unorthodox, both as Zopf and as cray fish bread, but good), and it didn't take long before we decided to try it in its own right. Since then it's become one of our favorite breads. It just tastes wonderful, somewhere between bread and cake (it's a fairly sweet bread), and as anyone who's been to Sweden will have noticed, most bread here is somewhat sweet. It might of course be the fact that you've baked your own bread that adds a little something extra to the taste (a hint of pride maybe?), but I think it has more to do with the fact that this is a truly delicious bread. The recipe we use is from Jan Hedh's Bröd (Bread).
So, to make two loafs you need:
20 g Yeast
10 g Honey
250 g Milk (=2½ dl – you gotta love the metric system!)
750 g Flour
75 g Sugar
75 g Butter
8 g Salt
Egg (1) and Salt (2 pinches) to brush with
Start by making a pre-dough: dissolve the yeast and honey in the milk. Incorporate 250 g of the flour, cover with plastic and let it sit for 30 minutes. The honey is (I guess) mostly yeast food, and I've used agave nectar instead. I guess it would work just as well with syrup or something similar.
Add the rest of the flour, sugar and egg to the pre-dough. Kneed on low speed for 3 minutes. Add butter and work it for another 5 minutes. Add the salt and work it for another 10 minutes, this time on higher speed (I usually go for speed 2 out of 3). Let the dough rest in a lightly oiled plastic box for 30 minutes. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll them into firm buns. Let them rest for 5 minutes under a baking cloth. Roll each bun into about ½ meter strings and braid them two-by-two (I'll get you some pix of this next time, promise!). Lay the two loafs on a parchment covered baking sheet and brush them with whipped egg and salt. Let them rise to double size (60-75 minutes). Brush one more and bake them in 220°C for 5 minutes, lower to 190°C and bake them for another 30 minutes. Let them cool on a grid.
They keep well in the freezer.