Classic German Nusszopf is a yeasted bread simply braided with fresh marzipan and a thin glaze. This nut braid takes it up a notch with the additions of ground hazelnuts as well as pecans to give a little extra nuttiness and texture to the bread.
This Nusszopf is great because it can be made for a variety of occasions! Whether you’re just having friends over for coffee or want to make it for a weekend brunch, this bread is the perfect addition to any gathering.
What nuts can I use?
This Nusszopf is so versatile because you can make it with all hazelnuts, hazelnuts and pecans, just almonds, just pecans, walnuts, etc… Try adding your favorite nuts and let me know what you think! For the most traditional flavor use only hazelnuts.
What if I don’t like marzipan?
I totally get it, I used to hate marzipan! While I do like it now, I find that the taste in this Nusszopf is very mild. The marzipan is more there to add moisture to the loaf.
Can I make this in advance?
Yes, definitely. Especially if it is not cut into, it will stay fresh for at least 2-3 days if wrapped up in an airtight container.
Can I freeze this Nusszopf?
Yes, I have done this many times. Simply wrap it in plastic wrap and then in foil and place it in a freezer bag. Feel free to freeze it for 1-2 months and take it out the night before you want to eat it – to allow it to defrost.
Is it necessary to toast the nuts?
Short answer is no. But, if you really want to taste the nuts I would not recommend skipping this step. Plus it can be done while the yeasted dough is proofing.
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Tips for making a Classic Nusszopf
- When making yeasted dough, ensure that you allow your mixer to fully knead the dough, until it forms a smooth ball and the sides of the bowl are cleaned. This dough is not very wet so make sure that the mixer is set on a low speed.
- If your marzipan has started to dry out, place it in a microwave safe bowl and top it with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 20-30 seconds, then let it sit for a few minutes. The marzipan should have softened if it isn’t too dried out.
- For the nuts, I like to use a food processor to get them nice and small (also because I think that chopping hazelnuts is a giant pain). But you can definitely use a knife to chop them if you prefer. Keep an eye on the nuts and just pulse them, don’t turn the food processor to continuous on because you may end up with nut butter!
- Roll the dough out into a shape that is as rectangular as possible. This will help when you are rolling it up to get a more even twist.
- All Purpose Flour: Any all purpose flour will work for this! I have not yet tried any other flours with this recipe.
- Sugar: This recipe uses granulated sugar in the dough and the marzipan filling.
- Milk: The Nusszopf use milk as the liquid in the dough; however, it will also work with non-dairy milks such as almond or light coconut milk.
- Butter: The butter adds moisture to the dough and the nut filling!
- Eggs: I use standard large eggs from the store. There is only one whole egg that is mixed in with the marzipan to add richness to the nut braid.
- Yeast: In this recipe, instant yeast is used. However, if you are using active dry, simply bloom the yeast in the milk alone first and then proceed with the recipe.
- Salt: This adds flavor to the dough and balances out the sweetness.
- Marzipan: This recipe uses fresh marzipan. You can make your own or use store bought but either way, make sure it hasn’t dried out because it won’t turn into a smooth paste. Marzipan is made from almonds, sugar, almond extract.
- Pecans: I like to use fresh pecans in this recipe, finely chopped.
- Hazelnuts: Hazelnuts can spoil easily, so make sure they are fresh and ready to be toasted.
- Brown Sugar: Light or dark brown sugar will work for this filling. It adds more warmth than white granulated sugar.
- Butter: The butter for the filling is melted and stirred into the filling which makes it easier to spread over the dough.
- Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar is the base of most glazes. If yours is very clumped together I recommend sifting if before making the glaze.
- Lemon juice: There is both lemon juice and water in the glaze. The small touch of lemon juice helps balance out the sweetness and richness of the nuts.
How to make your own Marzipan?
- 100 grams almonds
- 100 grams granulated sugar
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp water (more as needed)
- Blanche the almonds by placing them in a heat proof bowl, then pouring enough boiling water over to cover them. Let them sit for 20-40 minutes (the longer they sit the easier it will be to peel them). Then drain off the excess water and peel the almonds. Place the peeled almonds in a fresh bowl and pat dry.
- In a food processor, add in the granulated sugar and blend on high for 3 minutes until it has become light and powdery.
- Then add in the blanched almonds and blend again until it looks the consistency of crumbly sand.
- Add in the almond extract and the water and blend on high until you have a smooth paste. For this recipe, it’s ok if you can still feel some of the granules.
- Place the marzipan into a bowl and cover with an airtight lid. Exposed marzipan has a tendency to dry out so I always recommend covering it right after it is made.
How to make a Sweet German Nut Braid
Make the Nusszopf Dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk together the flour, sugar, and yeast. Then add in the warm milk, melted butter, and salt.
- Use a dough hook to knead everything together on low speed for 10-15 minutes until the dough has smooth edges and the bowl is clean.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl that is at least twice the size of the dough.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and place somewhere warm to rise for 1 hour. The dough should double in size.
Make the filling
- Start by toasting the pecans and hazelnuts in two separate pans over medium heat. Stir the nuts frequently and toast for about 10 minutes until they become fragrant.
- Remove the nuts from the heat and pour the hazelnuts onto a kitchen towel. Rub the hazelnuts in the towel to remove as much of the skin as possible.
- Add the toasted and peeled hazelnuts, as well as the pecans, to a food processor and pulse until they are between gravel and sand.
- Pour the ground nuts, melted butter and brown sugar into a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for later.
- Wipe out the stand mixer bowl, then add in the egg and remaining granulated sugar. Using the whisk attachment, on medium high speed, whisk until it becomes very light and airy.
- With the mixer running, slowly add pieces/chunks of the marzipan into the bowl until all of the marzipan is in the bowl and everything has been whisked into one smooth spread. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Assembling the Classic Nusszopf
- Prepare 1 baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Preheat the oven to 375 F or 350 F if baking on convection. Place an oven rack just below the center level of the oven.
- Roll the dough out to 10″ x 15″ – try not to use too much flour at this step. Spread the marzipan filling over the dough, you want to leave a 1 inch border on two long sides and one short side.
- Then, spread the nut filling mixture over the dough and leave the same border of the rectangle, free of nuts.
- Start rolling up the dough from the short end with the nut filling. Roll all the way to the other end, squeezing as necessary to make sure the roll is nice and tight.
- Place the roll in front of you, seam side down and pinch the ends closed to seal it shut. Using a long sharp knife, cut down the center of the roll, lengthwise. You should now be able to see the layers of dough and nut filling.
- Start by crossing the two lengths of dough over one another in the center to create an “X”. Then twist the remaining ends of each dough together – making sure that the exposed nut filling of each portion is face up.
- Pinch the ends together so the doughs don’t come untwisted. Gently lift the nut braid onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 in, rotating the sheet after 15 minutes to ensure even browning.
- While the nusszopf is baking, prepare the glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar, water, and lemon juice to a thin and runny glaze.
- Immediately after the nusszopf is finished baking, brush or drizzle the glaze over it. Allow it to cool for at least ten minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Classic Nusszopf | Sweet German Nut Braid
- Stand Mixer
- 250 grams ap flour
- 40 grams granulated sugar
- 8 grams instant yeast 1 packet
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 40 grams butter melted
- 125 ml milk lukewarm
- 75 grams hazelnuts
- 75 grams pecans
- 25 grams butter melted
- 50 grams brown sugar
- 200 grams marzipan
- 1 egg
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 250 grams powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp water
Make the Dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add in the flour, sugar, and yeast. Whisk to combine.
- Then add in the lukewarm milk, melted butter, and salt.
- Using the dough hook attachment, start kneading the mixture. Knead for a while on a low speed; the dough should come together into a smooth ball. Once that has happened continue kneading for a few more minutes. It should take 10 to 15 minutes in total.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and gently shape it into a ball. Place it into a greased bowl that is at least twice the size of the dough.
- Cover the bowl with plastic and place somewhere warm for 1 hour to rise.
Make the Filling
- Toast the pecans and hazelnuts in separate pans over medium heat until they become slightly fragrant and toasted.
- Peel the toasted hazelnuts by pouring them onto a kitchen towel and then rubbing them between the towel.
- Add both types of nuts to the food processor and pulse until the bits are between the size of sand and grave.
- Dump the nuts into a bowl. Add in the butter and brown sugar and stir to combine.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to whisk the egg and sugar together on high speed until light and frothy.
- Turn the mixer down to medium/high speed and slowly add in chunks of the marzipan until it is fully incorporated into the egg. *For how to make marzipan from scratch see above in blog post.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once mixed, the mixture should become a smooth paste.
Assemble and Bake the Nusszopf
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place an oven rack just below the middle level.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle that is 10" x 15".
- Using a rubber spatula, spread the marzipan filling over the rectangle, leaving a 1" border on two of the long sides and one short side.
- Spread the nut filling over top of the marzipan, leaving the same borders as with the marzipan.
- Starting at one short edge, roll the dough up tight. Then pinch the seam shut.
- Then cut the roll in half lengthwise.
- After it has been cut, twist the two halves together with the filling facing up. Start by crossing the two halves over each others centers to create an X.
- Then finish twisting and tuck in the ends.
- Place the braid on a greased or lined baking sheet and bake for 25 -30 min until golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through.
- While the loaf is baking, whisk the lemon juice, water, and powdered sugar together to make a glaze.
- Once the loaf is done baking, while it is still hot, brush or drizzle on the glaze. Then let it fully cool before cutting into it.