A decorative braid always seems time consuming. Sure, it looks great but there are really limitless ways of combining bread.
Why is the braid so popular? it's easy to describe but requires too much rolling out of strands... here's a method that may sound tricky but is very forgiving.
Step 1: Dough Prep
If you follow my posts you know I find breadmaking to be more 'art than science'. Yeast may sound tricky but it's a living thing that is very resilient. My approach to bread is laid out in The Art of Breadmaking.
This instructable assumes you have taken bread through it's first rise. Below is a quick recap of making the dough.
- Add/mix (in order) - oil, water, milk, bread flour, salt, yeast ----continue to add bread flour till you have a dough consistency
- There are thousands of types of bread... any different ratio is simply a different type of dough.
In this dough I added:
----if you don't have yeast look for a 1lb pack of yeast. Starting with the individual packets is a formula to spend more on bread than you would for just buying a cheap loaf. If you're frugal like me you'll need the 1lb pack. My first pack lasted for 3+ years in the fridge.
Step 2: Starting a Weave
Here I started with two rolled out section of dough. I used my handy dough scraper to separate the punch the whole.
Using some flour the punch is ready for a first weave.
Step 3: First Pass
From here you can wrap the arms or fold in a number of ways.
I went for the triple punch method!
Step 4: Second Pass
Add another punch & weave.
Step 5: Third Pass
Again - add a punch + weave.
Step 6: Second Proof
My preferred method of baking is in a dutch oven. The cast iron allows the temp to rise slowly as the oven comes to temp. I bake at 425. Never preheating.
The shape of the loaf is a bit influence by the container. When I have a larger size I use a large mixing bowl over a pan for the first 20-30min of the bake.
---I never use a wet towel to cover proofing dough. simply use a lid or another mixing bowl.
Step 7: Bake!!
Here's a look at the dough at various times.
- 30min - Great rise from the pre-proofed size shown in the previous step. At 30min I removed the lid
- 60min - At an hour I decided to allow the bread another 10min. I judged the timing based on the weight. Because of it's large size it had retained a lot of moisture. Removed from dutch oven for the final 10 min - resting directly on the oven rack.
- 70min - Removed from the oven and placed on a drying rack.
Step 8: Slice + Enjoy
Hope you enjoy this woven braid technique.
I couldn't find it anywhere online. If anyone has any old cookbooks or reference for this approach I would certainly be interested.
Thanks for reading!
Here are a few other recent bakes with illustrated instructions: