Yeast braid, or Hefezopf, is a traditional German Easter bread that’s soft and chewy inside and coated with almonds. It’s a great breakfast treat and can be served with butter or fruit jam on top.
This recipe is super easy to make and looks gorgeous too! It’s a simple yeast dough that’s made in a bowl, then shaped into a bread and baked. It’s perfect for brunch, and it can even be topped with egg wash (if you’re feeling fancy!).
It’s also an excellent bread to serve with soup. The nutty sweetness from the almonds makes it extra delicious!
You can make this dough up to a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to bake, bring it back to room temperature and follow the rest of the instructions below.
Start by whisking the yeast, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the lukewarm milk to the yeast mixture and stir until well combined. Then, whisk in the melted butter and egg until combined. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy.
When the mixture is frothy, transfer it to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Once it’s smooth, cover it with a clean kitchen towel and allow it to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
Divide the risen dough into three equal portions. Form each portion into 3 or 4 strands, depending on how you want your Hefezopf to look. I did 4 strands, but you can do as many as you like!
Next, roll each of the strands into a 24-inch rope. You’ll need to taper the ends so that they can be plaited easily. Once you’ve finished, line the three strands side by side on a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, braid them as you would braid hair. You can even use a little water as “glue” to help stick the ends together.
Repeat this process until all the strands are braided. You should be able to get all the strands to connect and form a long loaf. Once you have a nice braid, place the loaf on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let it rise for an additional hour. Then, brush it with an egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes or until it’s golden brown.
I’ve also made this recipe in my stand mixer with the paddle attachment. This method is much faster than mixing the dough by hand and you can be sure that you’ll have a perfectly formed braid every time!
This is a great braided sweet bread to share with family and friends. It’s tender, fluffy, and oh-so-sugary!
It’s a great recipe to make for Easter brunch, or any other occasion. You can even tuck hard-boiled eggs into the dough!
This bread can be frozen, but you must wrap it well and place it in a freezer-friendly container before freezing. It will last up to a month in the freezer, or until it’s completely thawed and warmed through in the oven.