A Step-by-Step Guide to Braiding Zopf

I started braiding Zopf althought we call it Tresse in Suisse romande — when we moved to Switzerland in 2012. While I know people who braided their first loaf of Zopf without any trouble at all, it took me many years to feel comfortable shaping this bread. If you struggle braiding this popular Swiss bread for Sundays, like I have in the past, then here are some easy directions that will hopefully make the process a bit less complex.


Zopf / Tresse/ Treccia Braiding Instructions

To help you better understand the two-strand braiding method, one of the two dough ropes has been mixed with cocoa powder.

  1. First, make two long dough ropes. Lay one of the ropes over the other one, creating a cross. The cocoa powder rope is the horizontal rope (i.e., the X-axis). The plain dough rope is positioned vertically (i.e., the Y-axis)
Preparing to braid Zopf

2. Cross over the two sides of the cocoa powder rope, left over right.

Braiding Zopf

3. Next, cross the plain rope over the cocoa powder rope, this time right over left.

Braiding Zopf

4. Back to the cocoa powder rope, cross the two sides over the plain rope, left over right.

Braiding Zopf

5. Again, switch back to plain rope. Repeat the steps, crossing the right side over the left side.

Braiding Zopf

6. Switch back to the cocoa powder rope. Again, you take the two sides one in each hand. Cross the left side over the right side of the plain rope.

Braiding Zopf
Braiding Zopf

7. Next, cross the two sides of the plain dough rope, continuing the same steps right over left.

Braiding Zopf
Braiding zopf

8. Continue braiding the ropes left over right (cocoa powder) and right over left (plain) until you reach the ends.

Swiss braided bread

9. Once you reach the four ends of the ropes, and you no longer have enough to cross them over one another, bring them together. Then, carefully tuck them under the loaf.


Honestly, when I braid a loaf of Zopf, it helps me to say to myself: “left over right, right over left, left over right, right over left.” It also makes it easier when I keep braiding continuously without any interruptions. If I stop, then I can forget where I am in the process and inevitably mess it up! Either way, it still tastes good, so please don’t stress. I’ve learned that you can definitely overthink this process.

Braiding and baking a loaf of Zopf is one of the most satisfying activities especially when you have a little more confidence in your braiding abilities. Everyone has their own style and their own techniques. You’ll find my recipe for Zopf in my new book, Swiss Bread. This is what works for me, and to the extent you might also find it helpful, I am very happy to share these instructions and photos with you. Happy Baking!

17 replies »

  1. Great guide, Heddi—love the step by step! I found braiding with two differently coloured doughs helpful too! Beet juice and turmeric also make pretty loaves. Happy 1 August!

    • Thanks, Andie! I almost used saffron today, but decided on cocoa powder instead. I’ve tried beet juice as well, but need to test with turmeric. Good suggestions! Your Zopf article was extremely helpful to me, as you know, especially your slow video! Happy August 1 to you and your family as well.

      • Oh, saffron! That’s a good idea too, and probably tastier than turmeric. (In a saffron related aside, they grow it in the Emmental! I bought some recently from a small farm shop). As for braiding Zopf, I am much better, but still not as good as Sam! He remains the master in our house 🙂

      • I really need to visit Emmental again soon!! And, learn some more bread-braiding techniques from Sam. 🙂

  2. Your instructions are very clear ! My cousin was visiting from Arth/Goldau and she was going to show me how to make Zopf…now I can try myself ! Greetings from Portland, Oregon.

    • Hi David! Thanks for your nice message. I hope these instructions will work for you! Have a wonderful Swiss National Day. I have good friends who live in Portland that I have always wanted to visit. Best wishes, and take care. -Heddi

  3. The easy way to remember the braiding order is that the bottom one always goes above. I learn this from 4 strand braiding and it also applies here.

    • Thanks for sharing this, Grace! I need to make Zopf again soon, so will have to try it your method.

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