Saturday, 19 January 2008
Two weeks have already gone by since my announcement of hosting Bread Baking Day #6 - it's definitely time to get to work! Being the host of the event, I had decided to make several shaped breads (that means at least two if I wasn't to break the promise I only gave to myself). In the German tradition of bread making, my first contribution wouldn't even count as bread as it's something sweet. However, following the tradition of Zorra's Bread Baking Day, one doesn't have to be too strict with oneself, right?
Therefore, I present something I made for the first time ever: "Mohnzopf" - a braided sweet yeast bread filled with a poppyseed mixture (and marzipan, in this case). In the past, I rarely had Mohnzopf at all and if so, it was always bakery-bought. I liked it but never got overly excited about it. Secretly, I always wondered if there really wasn't more to this old German classic than a "that's okay" verdict. However, now I know that this recipe is just another proof of the well-known fact that home-made goods are simply the best! This sweet bread is very substantial but not heavy enough to prevent you from reaching out for seconds, or thirds, or...
But I digress, back to my theme - shaped breads. Plaiting a three-strands braid isn't especially difficult but I found it quite tricky to handle filled and rather heavy strands. Starting off with a very plump braid, the strands got longer and thinner until I could barely fit the whole thing diagonally onto my biggest baking sheet. At least the braid is tapered consistently... However, I'm planning to do something much more elaborate in terms of shaping for Part Two - stay tuned!
I've used my favourite sweet yeast dough. For 500g of flour, use only 2 eggs. You don't want this dough to be too soft to handle.
I haven't figured out where to get freshly ground poppyseeds in Sydney, therefore I've used a pre-made mix I've imported from Germany myself - you can find it here. It's so sweet that you don't have to use any additional sugar - that's why there is no sugar in the recipe. If you can get freshly ground poppyseeds, you will need to boil it in milk until it's of a thick, mushy consistency like semolina pudding.
250g Mohn-Back (ready-to-use mix)
1 egg, large
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
100g almonds, ground
25g butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 glug of dark rum (can be substituted with milk)
200g marzipan, chopped (optional)
1 egg yolk and a few tbsp of milk for egg wash (optional)
Mix everything except the marzipan together; the filling should be of a very thick but still spreadable consistency.
Divide the yeast dough into three equal portions and pull gently to shape into long strands. Roll each strand into a very long rectangle and spread with the filling.
On one long side of each rectangle, evenly distribute the marzipan pieces. Roll into long strands with the marzipan as the core. Make sure to pinch the seams or the filling will come out during baking.
Plait the three strands into a braid and tuck the ends underneath. Cautiously place the braid on a baking sheet prepared with baking paper. Let rise until the braid has grown 1.5x in size.
Fan-bake at 150 degrees Celsius until golden-brown (in my oven this took barely 30 minutes).
Adapted from "Das Vohenstrausser Kochbuch"
The poppyseeds can be substituted with hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds.