In search of sourdough "Butterzopf" (braided loaf)

Form and content can overlap but ultimately diverge, which is why I’m starting a new thread about Butterzopf (literally, “butter braid”), rather than posting within the discussion of challah – another kind of lovely, braided loaf. Butterzopf is a popular loaf in German-speaking Europe, certainly in Switzerland, where it is part of what defines weekend baking for many people.

I’d like to convert the following recipe into a sourdough formula, and I’d be interested to hear how you all would adjust the flour and hydration levels in view of a sourdough starter maintained at 100% hydration. Originally from Katharina Arrigoni’s very nice book Schweizer Brot, the formula is as follows:

100g. milk
150g. wheat-white flour*
3g. fresh yeast
3g. salt

-Main dough:
210g. milk
300g. wheat-white flour*
50g. spelt flour
8g. fresh yeast
40g. sugar
6.g. salt
60g. butter

As an aside, I think the term “wheat-white flour” refers to “Halbweissmehl,” which is a sifted wheat flour (I’m unsure about the exact extraction percentage, even though the word itself could imply 50%). Generally, I’m too lazy to sift my flour anyway. My main concern is completely replacing the fresh yeast with sourdough.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!


Hi Philip, do you speak german? If yes go to <<>> Katharina Arrigoni has wonderful Zopf recipes.
En guete!

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Hi, Barbara. Yes, I do speak German – herzlichen Dank für diesen Hinweis!

I’m a fan of her book and website. But from what I can see in the publicly accessible pages, there is no recipe for a sourdough Zopf. Perhaps Katharina has one in the Memberbereich, but I unfortunately don’t have a subscription, so if it’s there I can’t view it.

Werde nachsehen, ich habe etwas ausgedrueckt. stay in touch 8285538840.

Ich bin aus der Schweiz. Habe Katharinas Sourdough Zopf ausgedrueckt kann es aber nicht finden:(. Habe in << >> nachgeschaut. Suche unter sourdough zopf.

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Herzlichen Dank, Barbara!

Ich habe das Rezept gefunden. Ich werde es genauer anschauen und hoffentlich einen guten “Sauerzopf” backen. Eine mögliche Kritik wäre wahrscheinlich, dass ein Butterzopf gar nicht sauer sein sollte. Mein Plan ist, einen süsseren Vorteig vorzubereiten, damit der Geschmack mehr oder weniger “korrekt” ist…

Hast du vielleicht einen Zopf mit Sauerteig versucht und, wenn ja, wie war er?

Gruss Phillip

Here is another Recipe for a Sourdough OsterZopf:

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Thanks, Robert!

I may end up combining ideas from various sources. Over the weekend, I mentioned the idea of sourdough Zopf to my family, so now there’s some (not so implicit) pressure to produce one. Haha.

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I’m curious if you would/could feed your starter milk and flour in order to mimic the waterless preferment (and dough) of the recipe you listed in the first post.

If the dough had water and the preferment milk, I would just swap the liquids, but since there’s not water in either, you’re either feeding your starter milk or accepting that your sourdough conversion is going to be less milky.

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Hi, Melissa. Yes, I think I may just try building the preferment with milk – and keeping the milk in the main dough too. I’ve made this gigantic sourdough pancake multiple times with an overnight, milk-based ferment. Even though it’s not entirely the same, it’s got me willing to give it a shot with the Zopf.

If you were doing this, how much starter do you think you’d use? Oh, and would you adjust the flour at all?

I think I would use the entire preferment as starter, so about 250g. I did that once with Hokkaido milk buns – using a lot of starter – and I liked the results.

I don’t think I would adjust the flour unless the dough seemed really wet. I would probably put the preferment salt in the regular dough… but just because I’ve never built a starter with salt, not because I know something :slight_smile:

Another alternative would be to use about 100 g of starter, and put that excess 150 g of flour and milk in the regular dough.

Alright, sounds good to me! I’ll give it a go and report back on the results, whether good or bad!

I meant to add in my previous reply: that sourdough pancake looks amazing! And it solves an issue I have sometimes of being too lazy to make individual pancakes for a big family lol

Oh, absolutely – I’m the same way! It’s really tasty and perfect for those of us who don’t care to make multiple, small pancakes.

Update: A milk-based preferment does indeed work. At least so far. I think it had already fallen a bit when I got this picture. I snapped it in a hurry, since it was time to finalize this batch of dough.

That’s so cool!!

I baked the loaf yesterday, and it turned out well – especially for a first attempt! I think I’ve identified a couple things that should be changed next time, such as including some diastatic malt and perhaps very slightly reducing the whole grain component. But overall, it seems to be a good starting point for sourdough Zopf.

I tried uploading a picture of it, but the website kept saying that the image was too big.

P.S. – If the changes lead to improvements in the second batch, I’ll specify what they were. I’ve changed a decent bit of the original, yeasted recipe.

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Hello Phillip. I found this thread on Google as I am trying to bake a Swiss Zopf with my (not very sour) sourdough starter. I read the discussion with much interest, also the parts in German. I lived in Switzerland for 6 years with my Swiss wife and now we have moved to my homeland, Australia.

Please would you share your final recipe and any feedback / suggestions?

Kind regards,

Hi, Keegan.

Thanks for your message. It’s a bit funny – I was just thinking about trying this bread again! Now I have extra motivation to do so. I’d be happy to share the final recipe, but I feel like I should give it another go before listing the various amounts. I’ll do it in the next few days and let you know.

The one thing that I can already say is that I’d recommend a milk-based preferment for the Zopf. More on that soon, though.

Hi Phillip

Thanks that sounds great!

I’m fairly new to making bread with a sourdough starter so I would greatly appreciate it if you would please include as much information as possible about how you do it, including the folding techniques, shaping techniques and particularly the ambient temperature you use for the proofing time as we’re on the season cusp.

Do you make it so that when finished you can stick it in the fridge overnight ready for a Sunday morning fresh bake? That’s my end goal, brunch.

Thanks again