For a long time I only made three-strand Zopfs, because I just couldn't master the traditional two-strand method.
Or my husband Sam would swoop in, cross his hands a couple times, and have a perfect two-strand braid.
"Slow down!" I'd cry, exasperated, then ask for an explanation of what he was doing.
"I don't even know," he'd say, "you just cross your hands a bunch of times."
Just follow the instructions.
Thankfully, I live in the Emmental, with Zopf-bakers aplenty. My favourite Züpfe (as they call it here) is from Zur Alten Weinhandlung in Trubschachen where owner Susanne Hofer bakes it fresh every Sunday in a wood-fired oven.
When the opportunity arose to bake with her in Trubschahen's Murhofer-Ofehus, the town's communal oven built in 1757, I jumped, and she kindly allowed me to film her masterly braiding techniques (and set it, perhaps excessively, to music).
So, after a great deal of study, I realized where I was going wrong. I had been putting the strand that I was pulling from the top over the other strand, rather than under it. Once I saw my mistake, I finally made my first correct two-stand braid.
Here's a pictorial of the braiding process. I replaced 50 grams of flour with cocoa powder in half of the dough to better show the process.
And then I made this super slow video of the two-strand braid.
The little, half cocoa Zopfs turned out quite nicely—the cocoa part was quite bitter, so I would up the sugar next time, but they were tasty and the innards looked cool.