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.
- 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)
2. Cross over the two sides of the cocoa powder rope, left over right.
3. Next, cross the plain rope over the cocoa powder rope, this time right over left.
4. Back to the cocoa powder rope, cross the two sides over the plain rope, left over right.
5. Again, switch back to plain rope. Repeat the steps, crossing the right side over the left side.
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.
7. Next, cross the two sides of the plain dough rope, continuing the same steps — right over left.
8. Continue braiding the ropes — left over right (cocoa powder) and right over left (plain) — until you reach the ends.
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!