A first attempt at Swiss Zopf bread

So much of my bread journey so far has been about no-knead breads that serve a purpose, and the Swiss Zopf bread sort of fits in that trend. My sandwich bread is helping to save us a little money; my Rosemary Asiago is helping us to, well, eat more Rosemary Asiago bread; but the Zopf is a nice looking bread that connects us to the Swiss part of our lives.

Zopf bread, right out of the oven

The great thing about this bread is that it looks complicated, but is relatively straight-forward once you figure out the braiding pattern. “Zopf” in German literally means “braid,” but a traditional Zopf only uses two strands instead of three. (Although I saw one with five!)

I watched a number of videos to get in the right frame of mind to try this braid. Honestly, I think my experience as an Eagle Scout and a sailor helped me more than any baking experience.

The recipe I used is from Betty Bossi , a cooking product company and magazine. I’ll probably record myself making it for The Baking Journalist sometime soon, and I’ll walk through each phase in detail. The important thing to know: it’s doable!

Resting Zopf dough before heading into the oven.

Our time in Switzerland and Germany exposed us to a great tradition of baking as a learned trade. The countries have their fair share of mass-produced retail bakeries, but also a link to the apprentice-master model of artisan baking. I was fortunate to see that professional baking tradition imported here to Ohio, and now I’m recreating some of those specialties on my very amateur level.

Zopf up close. So good.

My Baking Journalist project has been about education and experimentation. I wanted to give myself room to fail–or maybe a better way to say it would be: I wanted to give myself room to grow.

My video skills weren’t where I wanted them, so I kept learning.

My graphic skills weren’t where I wanted, so I kept learning.

And yes, my bread skills weren’t where I wanted, so I kept learning.

In the Instagram culture of today, I feel like people are pressured into thinking everything has to be perfect.

It doesn’t.

Sometimes trying something for the express purpose of seeing if it works, results be darned, is much better than aiming for perfection.

So long as you try to better yourself, you are bettering yourself. And that goes for baking, journalism, and life.

Save money making your own sandwich bread?

This post is about a side of home bread baking that I’ve not spoken to many people about: cost.

If you dip into the bread baking section of social media you’ll be amazed by the artisan works of edible art. Professionals and amateurs alike post photos of loaves beautifully decorated with ivy patterns or artistic folds; videos show time-lapse views of skilled dough shaping and loaf preparation.

I appreciate those skills, and continue to try to learn them, but this post isn’t about that. This post is about home baking loaves of sandwich bread to support a family, and how much that costs, with probably more detail than is necessary.

My backstory and detailed cost breakdown will follow, but here’s the point:

Baking loaves of wide-pan wheat-white-oat bread myself cost us up to $3.80, lasting a week and a little longer.

Buying bread ran us $3.57 per week, but could be up to $5.57 without cheap bread options. (I’ll explain.)

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Baking Vlog Ep. 7: Pumpkin Spice (Quick)bread

I’ve been a journalist for about 15 years, working in the US, Germany, and Switzerland, with stops in Oslo, Cairo, Prague, and more. But after I graduated from college with a journalism degree, I didn’t know exactly which direction I would head. I got a big break filling in for a reporter in Olympia, WA, and afterwards had a chance to be freelancer. But in between reporting gigs I needed something to pay for food, and gas…so I became a baker. Here’s a short story of me being a bread baker’s assistant:

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