A hand-braided sweet yeast dough – striezel, also known as a “Zopf” (braid) in many places in Austria, is a traditional bread made according to custom and is particularly popular in the afternoons served with coffee or tea. Juicy, refined with butter and raisins, the Striezel in its braided form is a fluffy pastry with tradition.
- 50 g yeast
- 500 ml milk (luke-warm)
- 1 kg flour (fine)
- 150 g icing sugar
- butter (for greasing tray)
- 4 egg yolks
- milk (for glazing)
- 200 g butter (soft)
- coarse sugar/sugar crystals (for sprinkling)
- raisins (according to taste)
Directions for Striezel
- Dissolve yeast in a little luke-warm milk and mix with a little flour and sugar to create a pre-ferment. Place flour in a bowl, make a hollow in the middle and pour in the milk-yeast mixture. Stir with a little flour and then cover with a little more flour. Leave to stand in a warm place for approx. 20 minutes until cracks start to form in the surface.
- Add the remaining ingredients and knead to form a smooth dough and leave to stand again for approx. 30 minutes.
- Knead again, divide the dough into strands, shape these into a braid and place on a baking tray which has been greased with butter. Leave to stand again for approx. 20 minutes.
- Brush with milk, sprinkle with the coarse sugar and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 °C/ 400 °F until golden brown.
The striezel is usually only topped with sugar crystals although you can also add small raisins to the dough for added taste.
JUST ONE MORE THING
In Austria, hand-braided bread is a traditional bread made according to custom with the “Allerheiligen-Striezel” (All Saints’ Striezel) being the most well-known. This is usually baked on the evening before All Saints’ Day – 1 November, and used to be eaten by the poor. The striezel were given to the poor on behalf of the dead with the request that they pray for the deceased. Even today, children go from door to door on All Saints’ Day asking for sweet yeast breads. The origins of this sweet yeast dough lie in ancient times when women’s braids were cut off as a symbol of mourning and, over time, this led to the traditional yeast dough braid. The traditional bread was also said to have magical powers which could help ward off evil spirits. For a long time, it was, for example, thought that if the striezel bread was unsuccessfully made it would bring bad luck for the next year.