Sunday, 27 November 2011

Hefezopf - a Classic Swabian Tea (or Coffee) Cake

Time for another recipe!
This one is for Hefezopf (literally "Yeast Plait"), a typical Swabian cake usually had with coffee or tea, no matter what the occasion. It is served in my region all year round, and an all-time favourite for funerals, birthdays, baptisms, weddings, gatherings without any particular reason; for breakfeast or in the afternoon.

Today, my parents had invited all of us (meaning the closest circle of family and friends) to meet for brunch at their place, to start off the Christmas season, since it is the first of the four Advent Sundays today, and everyone was asked to bring something.
My contribution was the Hefezopf, and here is how I made it this morning just before setting off to their house:

You need
500 g plain flour (not of the self-raising kind!)
20 g yeast
80 g sugar
1/4 litre of milk
100 g butter
a pinch of salt
one or two eggs, depending on their size (I used two small ones)
about 100 g raisins

Mix the dry ingredients first. Then add the yeast.
Before you add the eggs, make sure they do not come straight from the fridge but are at room temperature.
Make sure the milk is luke-warm before adding it.
Melt the butter in a pan or in the microwave before adding it.
Do not yet add the raisins.

Mix well. I did not use an electric mixer, but my favourite, very old wooden spoon (I am not sure whether it is from my grandmother's or my mother's household, but I've had it "forever" and it has served me well over the years).

Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for at least an hour.
When the dough has had time to rise a bit, add the raisins and prepare your baking board or table top or kitchen counter work surface or whereever you wish to make the plait on by spreading some flour on it. Add one or two handfuls of flour to the dough as well, and make sure your hands are well covered in flour.

Knead and beat the dough with your hands until it is smooth and does not stick to your hands anymore, at the same time working the raisins into the dough.

When that's done, divide the lump of dough into three parts.
Roll out the three strands into oblong bits of more or less the same length. They really do not have to look perfect, so don't worry if they are a bit uneven or lumpy, as long as the dough in itself is smooth.
Now join the three strands at one end and plait them as you would do with three strands of hair when making a plait, and join them again at the end.
Put into the oven for about 40 minutes at 200 Celsius; of course I do not need to tell you to check after 30 and 35 minutes, because no two ovens are exactly the same.

The Hefezopf is tasty enough on its own, but it is at its best when you spread some butter on it as you would on a slice of bread, and have coffee or tea or hot chocolate with it.
It made a nice additon to our brunch!


  1. This looks so wonderful! I miss the delicious breads and rolls I can buy when in Germany or Hungary....Those bretzl ones are my daughter's favorite! When we stayed at my bil's in Ravensburg for his son's wedding, he bought a big bag of wonderful rolls every morning for all the house guests. Yummmmm!

    We used to have teas on Advent Sunday afternoons, and sing carols. We still do this sometimes, but not every Sunday anymore......

  2. Kristi, no carol singing in this family - we're simply not religious, but we still like the getting together and the traditional decoration and food.

    I don't blame your daughter for having Brezeln as her favourite!

  3. What a wonderful spread of food, and the view from the patio looks nice too! And that cake(sweet bread?) looks really good, I think I can almost smell it.

  4. Looks delicious! I may even try to make it! Thanks for sharing your traditional recipe!

  5. Kay, it really is more like a sweet bread than a cake. And when I came home from my parents' yesterday in the afternoon, the scent of it still hung in the air all over my flat.

    Mary, it is indeed delicious! I know you won't have a problem converting the measures if you make it yourself.

  6. I shouldn't say this, since I am overweight and have decided I shouold diet, but one of the things I always like in Germany is the chance to try a wonderful German cake or two. Or indeed most of the food, which is really good.

  7. Jenny, why shouldn't you say that you like the food here in Germany simply because you feel you should be dieting? It is no contradiction to enjoy your food and watch the amount of what you actually eat at the same time :-) I am glad you like the cakes over here!

  8. So tempted to try your receipe - if only to give you a laugh when I photograph the results!

  9. Macy, depends on how you decide to shape the dough - you can of course make any kind of funny shape :-)
    Otherwise, not much can go wrong; all you have to pay attention to is the temperature of things while you are making the dough. The yeast does not like it if you add anything too cold (straight from the fridge) or too hot (milk at boiling point). They will then just die and not do their work, and the dough will never rise.

  10. Just like magic! Love shapes :-}

  11. Indeed, Lorraine, a lot about baking and cooking is just like magic :-)