It’s funny where inspiration comes from. My mother shared a video of someone braiding bread in several different ways. It was interesting, who knew that you could braid bread into 10 different patterns? I didn’t. The video was in a different language and the subject of the video was obviously a professional bread maker because her ninja-like moves made it pretty tough to follow along with as I was trying my hand at braiding bread. The video was clearly a demo and not meant to be a howto. I found some of those after I had finished baking these loaves off. That was much easier to follow and things made much more sense. I will be sure to revisit those when I try this again.
I started with my usual Italian bread dough recipe and measured out several dough balls to do about 20 strands of braid. The majority of my loaves used four to five strands, but a couple used either one or two. My results were clearly not perfect, but I am pleased with the results. I blame myself because for about half of the time I was standing there with a strand of dough in each hand saying “How the hell did she just do that?”. After enough trial and error I ended up with some great tasting bread that won’t be winning any bread braiding contests anytime soon. The good news is that I was able to do it well enough to want to do it again. Now armed with some formal Youtube training, maybe I will be in contention for that bread braiding award. If if one doesn’t exist, I will create one and award it to myself. Now I just need to figure out what is in the cheesy garlic braided bread that I used to buy at the farmers market.
If you have ever braided hair, you can braid bread. You don’t need to braid 9 strands to make something look good. Starting with a three strand braid and moving into a give strand braid may be a good way to start. The process is to pinch the ends of three strands of dough together on one end and then begin the braid. Start with either the left or the right strand of dough and place it between the center strand and the opposite strand. Then take the opposite strand and place it between the center and the other strand. Just repeat that process until you reach the end of your strands. When you reach the ends, pinch them all together and make it look neat.
Moving on to a five strand braid is pretty similar to the three strand, start with three strands on one side and two on the other. Start the side with three strands the same as if you were using three. When you complete one cycle, move on to the side with two strands and use the inside strand from the first three as the third strand for the side with two. Keep repeating this back and forth until you reach the end. Pinch the ends together to make them look neat and then allow to rise for a half hour or so and then bake for 20-25 minutes.