Step 4: Proofing and baking
After shaping the braids, you have to let it rise again, for 45 minutes. This rise is also called proofing the dough. In order to prevent a skin on the dough, you have to cover it. The best you can use, is a floured linen towel. I used to use a damp cotton kitchen towel until recently. But the floured linen sticks even less, especially with very moist doughs.
So after these 45 minutes, you need to brush the babies with eggwash. I take a egg yolk and a little bit of water, mix it with a fork and brush it on the braids.
Baking instructions can vary from oven to oven. For a bread of this size, a baking time of about 35 min. seems appropriate at around 170 Celsius 340 Fahrenheit with the oven preheated. My mum used to put it into the cold oven and set it to 180 Celsius 355 Fahrenheit for 40-45 min. This way, the yeast gives a last quick rise, as the oven heats. I normally use the cold oven method.
Since i can add steam in my oven, i use this feature extensively. It keeps the crust from forming in the beginning, giving it a even better "oven spring".
Since my wood fired bread / pizza oven is operational, i had to try a braid of course.