Like fried potatoes in Belgium, this Sunday morning braided bread might be the only food that truly unites Switzerland’s four diverse ethnic and linguistic groups:  German, French, Italian, and Rumantsch Grischun, the language of Canton Graubuenden. 

Recipe courtesy of Chef Reto Mathis

Makes one large braid, about 20 servings

9 ounces/270 grams whole milk

1 ounce/25 grams compressed yeast

2 teaspoons/10 grams sugar

3 ounces/80 grams unsalted butter, melted

2 extra-large eggs at room temperature

19 ounces/540 grams bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons/10 grams salt

Egg wash:  One egg well whisked with a pinch of salt

One rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the milk, yeast, and sugar together.  Let stand 5 minutes, then whisk again.
  2. Whisk in the eggs and butter; use a large rubber spatula to stir in the flour.  Sprinkle the salt on the surface of the dough.
  3. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low/medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover, and allow the dough to ferment until double in bulk.
  4. Scrape the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 3 or 4 pieces.  Roll each to a cylindrical shape and braid them loosely.  Place on the prepared pan and cover with a cloth.  Let the braid proof until almost double in bulk.
  5. When the braid is almost proofed completely, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
  6. Uncover the braid and brush it with egg wash twice at a 5 minute interval.
  7. Bake the braid until well colored, well risen, and with an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.
  8. Cool on a rack and serve the day it’s baked with butter and jam.