How To Braid Bread - A Four-Stranded Plait

how to braid plait bread
Braided bread is very pretty. It also looks so impressive that people think it must be difficult to achieve. Guess what? It's not hard. With a few tips and a bit of behind-the-scenes knowledge, you could easily make your next loaf a braided one.

Want to try?

You can braid any type of bread.* For the loaf pictured, I used white bread, to the recipe given below.
*That is to say, I can't, off the top of my head, think of any that wouldn't work although very wet doughs are difficult to handle so I wouldn't try those initially.

White Bread For Braiding

500g/1lb strong white flour
5g/1tsp instant dried yeast
10g/2tsp salt
315g/10oz water

I have attempted to give measurements in both grams and ounces here, for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with our English metric system. This is the first time for ounces on my site, but hopefully not the last. I was planning to convert all my recipes but I still haven't found the time. Please let me know if you try the pounds and ounces version and tell me if it worked ok!

Anyway, on with the matter of braiding...

Make the dough according to the master method, up to the point of shaping the dough. Instead of 'pop it in the tin' you need to do the following:

Divide the dough into four equal pieces. I actually weighed mine to make them even-sized but you could do it by eye well-enough, I reckon.

how to braid bread four stranded plait


Let the dough rest for a while.

The elasticity of dough comes from the gluten in the flour. Gluten forms long strands that inter-mesh to contain the bubbles of gas that make the dough rise. Whenever you work the dough, the gluten strands tighten up, like a tense muscle. After a few minutes, they relax again. Naturally, it is easier to shape the dough when the gluten is relaxed, so, if ever you are trying to elongate dough (as now) or stretch it out wide (as for a pizza base), it's wise not to try and do all the stretching at once.

Here, we need four strands of equal length. I rolled and stretched my dough on the counter top, using it like a rolling pin, to elongate the strands. Having children is very useful at this point: there is just no way you can roll four strands of dough to completion without being interrupted. And the interruptions actually help, by letting the dough relax along the way.

how to braid bread four stranded plait


So, once you have your four strands, squidge them together at one end:

how to make braided bread four stranded plait

how to braid bread four stranded plait

Now for the plaiting.

Firstly, fold the right-most strand into the middle, crossing over one strand:

how to braid bread four stranded plait

Secondly, fold the left-most strand into the middle, crossing over two strands:

how to braid bread four stranded plait

Next, take the right-most strand again and bring it over one strand:

how to braid bread four stranded plait

And the left-most strand over two strands:

how to braid bread four stranded plait

And so on.
Right strand over one strand, left strand over two strands, until you run out of strands, at which point you squidge the ends together like this:

how to braid bread four stranded plait

And it's done!

how to braid bread four stranded plait

Transfer the braid/plait to a baking tray. I swear by these reusable baking sheets*, by the way, which you can see here.
(*Affiliate link to Amazon)

how to braid bread four stranded plait

I sprayed mine with water and sprinkled it with poppy seeds. Sesame seeds look nice too. You could leave it plain, or try other glazes.

http://www.homemadeloaves.co.uk/2013/08/12-glaze-effects-tried-and-tested.html

This is the point at which the loaf is left to prove, until you estimate it has doubled in size.

how to braid bread four stranded plait

how to braid bread four stranded plait

Bake at 200oC (400F) for five minutes, then turn the oven down to 180oC (350F) for a further 30 minutes, or until the loaf is a pleasant golden-brown colour.

Et voila!

how to braid bread four stranded plait

how to braid bread four stranded plait

For more tricks and tips to help you Bake Beautiful Bread, follow the link.

I'm guessing you've already signed up for your copy of Fresh Bread In 20 Minutes. Don't hold back, it's free!

2 comments:

  1. I can wholeheartedly endorse the usefulness of the non stick baking sheet. Had it introduced to me by my daughter.......even though I did a lot of baking before she even came along. It saves so much washing up of the trays and sticking of the food and I would not like to be without it now. Well done Rachel!

    ReplyDelete