The Easter holidays are almost here. Chetana Parameswar brings you an interesting recipe in the true spirit of the Swiss ‘Zopf’ Braid your own ‘Easter Bunnies’ this April.
The name of the celebration “Easter / Ostern” has its root in Pagan traditions and can be traced back to the 13th century, pre-Christian Germany. Easter is celebrated in the month of April or the month of “Eostre/Ostara”, the Germanic goddess of fertility, dawn and light. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits give birth to large litters in early spring, these became symbols of the fertility of the earth were adopted by early Christians as a symbol for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Swiss tradition and celebrations
Easter, in today’s time, is celebrated with prayers and a feast. Some of the favourite traditional Easter foods in Switzerland are coloured hard-boiled eggs, ‘Osterchüechli’, chocolate bunnies, ‘Colomba Pasquale’ and ‘Butterzopf’.
Swiss braided bread – the Zopf
‘Zopf’ or ‘Zupfe’ or literally braid, is a Swiss bread which is traditionally eaten on Sundays. The loaf is woven to look like a braid, which came from the tradition of the widow cutting off her braid and burying it with her husband during the 15th century.
The Zopf is shaped into bunnies or “Zopfhasen” to make an Easter meal even more special.
- 500 grams of Zopfmehl/ flour*
- 300 millilitres of full-fat milk (lukewarm)
- 60 grams butter (melted and cooled to room temperature)
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 21 grams (½ cube) of baker’s yeast** (found in the fridge section of supermarkets)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Egg wash (1 egg yellow diluted with 2 teaspoons of milk, whisked together)
- Few raisins
* If you can’t find Zopf flour (which has a mix of white wheat flour and white spelt flour), regular flour can be used. ** If you don’t get the fresh yeast, dry yeast may be used as a substitute.
- Break the yeast into small pieces and whisk these into the lukewarm (not hot) milk. Set aside in a warm place for about 15-20 minutes till it turns frothy, activating the yeast.
- Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Make a little well in the centre of the mixture. Add in the melted butter, frothy milk mixture and stir. Then pour the mixture onto a clean countertop and knead well. It needs to be kneaded for about 10-15 minutes by hand, 5- 7 minutes when using a machine. Cover the bowl with a moist towel or cling film and let it prove for about one to two hours in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
- Cut the dough in about 6-8 similarly sized pieces, depending on the size of the bunnies that one needs.
- Take one piece out at a time to roll and shape, leaving the rest of the pieces covered in the bowl. Cut one piece into two, one part for the bunny’s face and ears and the other part for its body. Roll the part intended to shape the bunny’s body and tail uniformly thick, 30-40 cms long breadstick. Take out a tiny portion of dough to form the bunny’s tail. Starting from one end, roll the breadstick into concentric circles to form the body, leaving the other end for its legs. Now with the part of the dough intended to form the bunny’s face and ears, roll into a short thicker breadstick, tapering towards one end. Cut the
tapering half into two to form the ears, flatten out the face and make a small dent to fit a raisin for its eye.
- Lay the bunnies on a baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Let these sit in a warm covered place and let it prove again for about 30 to 60 minutes.
- Before baking, again sweep with the egg wash.
- Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the bunnies) in the lower
part of a preheated oven at about 200 degree Celsius.
- Cool and enjoy with honey, jams, preserves or just plain butter.
Variations possible: The following could be kneaded in before the stage of shaping the bunnies.
- 125 grams of bacon cubes crisped up in a frying pan and cooled;
- 50 grams raisins soaked in warm water and drained;
- 50-75 grams of chocolate chips.
Do give these bunnies a try and surprise your family with a special treat.
This was my version of the ‘Zopfhasen’ – but surf the net and you’ll find many variations. The above recipe has been adapted from the original one that you will find here.
Disclaimer: Opinions and methods expressed are solely of the writer. Namaste Switzerland does not undertake any obligation or liability which may arise from the content.