Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beautiful, Braided Bread

This tutorial was not planned.  Not at all.

I didn't even start take pictures for it until I had already finished making the dough.

That's when it occurred to me, "Raven, you have two lumps of dough. Braiding the first was fun. Braiding the second will be fun too.  So why not take some pics and blog about it?!"


It's sort of funny because the recipe is from an incredible and extensive baking book, but it's written for the UK.

That means, a lot of the measurements are in pounds/ounces and I don't have a digital scale.  Fortunately, I have a spring scale that is mostly accurate.

But I need CUPS!  I can't measure ingredients by their weight!  This is America for crying out loud!  We are different from the rest of the frickin' world.  We care about/know only one language and we measure things in CUPS! (and inches...just to take it one step further)!

Also, word to the wise, when using yeast, you have to know that there are different kinds of yeast.  Instant, Active Dry, Rapid Rise and Fresh Yeast.  These do essentially the same thing in the end, but if you are substituting you can't replace 1/4 ounce of instant yeast for 1/4 ounce of active dry yeast or even 1/4 ounce of fresh yeast.  Oh no my friend. You would be very, very sad with the outcome.

This almost happened to me today.  The directions called for 3/4 ounces of fresh yeast.  So I went to my scale and measured out 3/4 ounces of active dry yeast (it's what was on hand).

I measured out about 9 teaspoons.  Nine! Almost my entire jar!  I knew something had to be wrong.  I asked Mr. Google what to do, and he showed me the light, as always.  I found this chart and the rest is now history.  I think I ended up using approximately 3 teaspoons.  (I was making 1.5 loaves).

Now we can begin:

Dough Ingredients...this is for one loaf (not 1.5'ved like I did)

5 cups white bread flour
2 tsp salt
3/4 oz fresh yeast....if you don't have fresh, use 2-1/4 tsp. of active dry yeast, or 3/4 of a packet of instant yeast.
**if you use dry yeast, don't forget to "proof" it and subtract the water used from total amount in the recipescant 1 cup luke warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs
6 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

for the glaze:
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp water
2 tsp poppy seeds for sprinkling

**if you double or one-and-one-half your recipe, start with the original quantities for the glaze.  You can always mix another batch if needed, but I hate to waste a good egg if it's not really needed. This one batch could have definitely gotten me through another loaf.

Instructions.....Pictures do not begin until the braiding begins.  Sorry.

For the dough:
Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Mix the yeast with the water and sugar, add to the center of the flour with the eggs and melted butter and gradually mix in the surrounding flour to form a soft dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Place in an oil coated bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise, for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Knock back, re-cover and leave to rise again for about 1 hour. Knock back, and...

Lightly dust surface with flour...

Pull out your dough...

 Roll it out...

Cut into quarters...

Roll each strip into a 18" log....kind of like when you used to make snakes out of playdough

Take the four ropes and line them up, like this:

Pinch the top end of the ropes together:

Let the braiding begin!!

Starting from the right,
take the outermost rope, let's call it #1, and place it over the rope to the left of it, rope #2....

Take rope #3 and place it over rope #4...

Here's the tricky part....
take rope #4 and place it between rope #1 and rope #2...keeping the numbers straight is what can be confusing....but once you get the hang of it, it's a piece of cake.

Now start from the beginning....1 over 2, 3 over 4, 4 between 1 & 2.

Repeat until an inch or two left at the ends.

Then pinch the ends together, like so:

Next, take your beautiful work of art(s) and place them on a greased baking sheet(s).

Pull out your plastic wrap and grease one side of it....

Cover the loaf/loaves with the greased side of the plastic wrap...

It's time for the final rise...about 35-40 minutes...or until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees...
yeah, I can't see the numbers on my oven dial's always a guessing game!
I've got 35-40 minutes to let those guys rise....

While waiting for the loaves to rise and the oven to preheat, make the glaze for the bread.

Take your tablespoon of water and one egg yolk...leave out the whites.

Separating the yolk from the white is not always an easy task...

This is what happened to me....yuck!

However you do it, get the yolk and water in a bowl together and mix them up...

Time's up!!

They've risen a good bit...

Brush your loaves with the egg/water glaze, the more the merrier...

Get out your poppy seeds....

Sprinkle them evenly over the tops of the loaves...

Place the loaves in the pre-heated oven...

Set your timers so the loaves can bake for 35-40 minutes...

Check on them if you just can't resist it....

Time's up!!

Beautiful, braided loaves...yea!!!

Oh, goodness, they look so pretty and delicious.

The perfect bread for French toast.

I have to admit that after baking the beauties, I felt very proud of myself.  It looks so difficult to do (but it isn't) and it's very impressive to look at.

That's it for the bread baking today....

But I am getting amped up for a massive yard sale that I am coordinating at/for the church I go to.

It's going to be crazy, and let me tell you, there is some good stuff!

Maybe I can take pics today and post them tonight for you.  Dishes, furniture, linens, oh my!

This sale is the beginning of the thrift store I will be opening up through the church in a few months.  I'm really excited.  I will give you more details as things move along.  It's been a pretty slow process.

Okay, that's all folks...

Keep Posted,

the rave