I was working in a small village out of Munich the other day, and when I went out to buy lunch at the local bakery I stopped dead in my tracks. There, sitting in the counter window was such a glorious looking, braided bread, staring up at me, begging to be bought and eaten. One bite and I was smitten, I knew I had to recreate this at home.
Nußzopf (literally ‘Nut Plait’) is one of the many delicious things that can be made from a basic German ‘Hefeteig’ or yeast dough – basically a sweetened and enriched dough that can be used in a variety of ways.
In this instance, it is left to rise, before being rolled out flat, spread with an absolutely moreish walnut and cinnamon filling, then rolled, sliced and plaited.
Slicing the dough lengthwise before plaiting allows all of the nutty filling to show through as well as being incorporated into the middle of the bread. You can use this recipe to make one huge loaf (HUGE) or split the dough in two before rolling out and make two smaller loaves.
Nußzopf freezes well for a few days, tightly wrapped – even though it smells so heavenly in the oven it usually doesn’t get as far as the freezer. As always, I like to use fresh yeast, but packet yeast works equally as well.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I halve this recipe?
Yes, you can. Halve all ingredients, except the yeast. Alternatively make the whole recipe and chill or freeze half of the dough.
I can’t eat nuts! Is there an alternative filling for German Nut Plait?
Actually, there is! Nußzopf and babka are close cousins, so you can spread your dough with melted chocolate before rolling, slicing and baking. If you are using melted chocolate, make sure to chill the dough thoroughly after you roll it up to stop the chocolate going everywhere!
- 250 ml milk
- 21 g fresh yeast / 7g dry yeast
- 500 g plain flour
- 75 g sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- generous pinch of salt
- 100 g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
for the filling:
- 200 g walnuts
- 100 g butter, melted
- 75 g sugar
- 1 heaped tsp cinnamon
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
for the glaze:
- 150 g icing sugar
- 50 ml lemon juice
- Begin by warming the milk slightly, it should be comfortable to hold your finger in it. Remove from the heat, crumble over the yeast, mix well and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt. Pour in the milk and yeast mixture and add the butter and egg. Using the dough hook attachment, knead on a medium speed for about ten minutes. The mixture will probably stick to the sides of the bowl - if so, add extra flour, one tablespoon at a time until the dough moves freely in the bowl.
- After ten minutes, shape the dough into a ball, (it should feel soft, springy and elastic), put back into the bowl, cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an hour until almost doubled in size.
- Meanwhile make the filling by roughly chopping the walnuts in a food processor (leave them a little chunky). Add the butter, sugar, cinnamon and egg and pulse a few times to combine.
- When the dough has risen, knock the air out of it, divide it in two and put one half in the fridge. Roll the other half out on a floured surface to a large rectangle.
- Spread half of the filling over the dough, then starting at the longest side, roll the dough up. Cut the dough in half lengthways (chill it first for 15 minutes) then with the cut sides facing up, squeeze the top ends together and then form a simple plait (see pictures). Now heat the oven to 180° C / 350°F / Gas 4. Set aside covered with a clean cloth and repeat with the other half of the dough. When the oven is hot, bake on an oven tray lined with baking paper for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile beat together the icing sugar and the lemon juice, and then drizzle over the baked nußzöpfe while still hot. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 613Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 111mgCarbohydrates: 75gFiber: 4gSugar: 31gProtein: 12g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
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