German Hefezopf

German Hefezopf- a classic German recipe

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The German Hefezopf is THE essential cake for a Sunday coffee with family in Germany. When I grew up, nearly every Sunday we had coffee (well milk for us kids) and Hefezopf in the afternoon. Add some butter and homemade raspberry jam (or maybe some Orange Marmelade) and you will find yourself in seventh heaven.

It’s also a great present when visiting friends. When I do this and I need some for us as well, I simply make the same amount of dough, but then I prepare 2 Hefezopf from it. One to give away and one for us ;-). As they are smaller, I have to adjust the baking time as no one likes a burnt Zopf.

I got my original recipe from the Austrian chef Johann Lafer, who I think is one of the best chefs in Germany/ Austria. His cookbooks are simple yet ingenious. And the best about it? They always work out. Like always always.
Obviously I added a little bit here and there but it sure is a crowd pleaser. Before you put the German Hefezopf in the oven, you can garnish the Zopf with some pearl sugar or almond flakes for extra flavor!

Variations of the German Hefezopf

  • you can add raisins
  • you can top with sugar pearls
  • you can top it with almond flakes

As I am not so keen on the raisins, I rarely add them.

But please don’t try to make it with wholewheat flour (spelt flour Type 620 works). I tried it and failed miserably. It was ok to eat, but normally a Hefezopf in gone in a day at my house, and this time I had some left after 3 days… I think that says it all.

My kids love the German Zopf and could eat it for breakfast or dinner or in the afternoon. Any time really.

Another advantage is the smell it brings to the kitchen- nothing beats it.


sabrina x

Oh- and if you use fresh yeast and now have a half cube spare-why don’t you make a Pizza? 

German Hefezopf

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A fabulous German classic

  • Prep time:
    20 minutes
  • Rest time:
    2 hours
  • Baking time:
    45 minutes
  • Total time:
    3 hours 5 minutes


1 piece
75 g butter room temperature
250 ml milk
20 g  yeast -if you cannot find fresh yeast, please use 7g dried yeast instead
50 g sugar
1 pinch salt
1 egg
500 g flour
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest 
Egg wash
1 egg yolk
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of sugar

Steps of preparation

  1. Heat the milk in a small pot to be lukewarm- not boiling. You should be able to put your finger in the milk (which we won’t do) 😉
  2. In the meantime, put the yeast and sugar in a big mixing bowl.  Pour the milk over the mixture and stir.
  3. Add salt, butter, 1 egg and the lemon zest. 
  4. Mix everything using a dough hook.  
  5. Add the flour and combine for roughly 3 minutes.
  6. The dough is perfect when it comes off the bowl when kneading.
  7. You may need to add a bit more flour, the dough should be shiny and a little sticky.
  8. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest/rise for 2 hours.
  9. Dust a surface lightly with flour and divide the dough in 3 even pieces.  
  10. Form the dough to small balls, and then roll them to long strings (roughly 30 cm long). 
  11. Place the 3 strings next to each other and braid it to a plait.Zopf
  12. Put a baking paper on a baking tray and place the dough on the tray and let it rest for another 20 min
  13. Preheat the oven to 180 °C
  14. In the meantime, swirl the egg yolk with some sugar and salt and brush the braid with the mixture after the last resting period.
  15. If you can find pearl sugar, add it. You can also add some almonds if you like.
  16. Place the Zopf in the oven on the lowest tray rack and adjust the temperature to 160 °C
  17. Bake for 35 – 40 mins.
  18. Check on the Zopf after 25 minutes and if it gets too much colour, cover the Zopf with a baking sheet.
  19. Enjoy with some homemade jam and butter! 


Let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, covered in a baking sheet and bake it in the morning. Perfect for a lazy Sunday breakfast! 
You can also add some raisins in the dough and sprinkle with almond flakes.

How do you like the recipe?

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You tried this recipe?

Then link @sabrinastable on Instagram or use the hashtag #sabrinastable.


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