Bite My Kitchen by Gordana

Braided Bread

15 minutes

medium

14 slices (roughly)

Bread. What can I say? It’s one of the best simple pleasures in life – especially when its freshly baked, warm and smeared with some butter. I don’t think a day has passed where I have not enjoyed bread in some shape or form. Bread is a staple in Serbian cuisine and a must have in our house. This braided bread recipe is a fun spin on a standard baked loaf because making it braided makes it that tad extra special and it impresses your family or guests. This recipe calls for a basic bread dough but with a very fun and attractive result.

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.

 James Beard
braided bread slice

Bread is special

I love baking bread.

Bread – shaping it, baking it, blessing it and sharing it – is a part of almost every Serbian holiday. Bread is also a huge part of Serbian cuisine and it comes in many different shapes and forms. Breads of all kinds from all around the world can tell a story not only about the bread itself but the methods from the past and its importance, symbolism, the story of people, customs, way of life in the past and even today. You may have seen a recipe for homemade bread here a while ago, but with this recipe I have gone for a more fun & attractive shaped bread that is made with bread flour and a few other simple ingredients.

braided bread with jam & chickpeas

Why braid bread?

If you are a regular baker, you have likely discovered the calming, stress-relieving properties of baking your own bread OR just baking in general. There is nothing quite like taking a freshly baked loaf out of the oven. The smell of the warm bread is amazing and does wonders for our sense of comfort & coziness!

Basically – braiding bread is the prettiest way to combine arts and crafts with baking. After all, baking is not only a scientific process but also a creative one. Braiding bread is like taking the basic homemade bread recipe and getting creative with it! The best part is that even if you mess up – the dough will still bake and you can enjoy it regardless. There are so many ways to shape and decorate bread and braiding it is only one way to get a bit creative.

Making the braids

This braided bread is with three strands only, we are not going for those professional seven or eight strands of braids, nothing too complicated here.

  • First form the dough into three ropes – Once your dough is ready, place it on a clean surface and divide it into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope, using even pressure so the ropes are the same width from end-to-end. All three ropes should be the same length (this was about 50 cm long for me)
  • Crisscross the ropes – Arrange the ropes on a baking paper in the baking tray. At the top end of the ropes pinch them together so that they merge. Then, begin braiding by crossing the right rope over the center rope. Then, cross the left rope over the center. Continue alternating, right and left over center, until the braid is done.

quick tip – Braiding the bread directly on the baking paper in the baking tray means you won’t have to move the braid which decreases the risk of stretching the dough or ripping it.

  • Finishing the braids – Once you finish alternating the ropes, you’ve reached the end of the dough. Pinch the ropes together and gently tuck the ends underneath the braid on both ends to give the bread a clean, finished look.
braided bread

Baking the bread

For this recipe, I have brushed the braids with melted butter but you can totally brush it over with an egg wash (I didn’t have eggs at the time). For the egg wash – whisk one egg with one tablespoon of water and brush over the braids for that glossy look. Otherwise, melted unsalted butter works a treat as well.

You can also sprinkle the top with some textured toppings like sesame or poppy seeds and pop into a preheated oven. The bread flour that I have used in this recipe already has some seeds and grains in it, so I have chosen to leave that out. Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.

If you can resist – allow the bread to cool down for a few minutes before slicing it. This braided bread can be used any way. Spread some butter, jam or honey. Maybe prepare some savory treats with chickpeas, ham or salami on top. You can also use any left over bread for French toast.

Making braided bread is really not as hard as it may seem! If you can make a simple bread loaf in any shape or form, then you can put together a few braids. There really is nothing quite like a warm slice of fresh braided bread. Especially when it is served with some butter and jam on top. Yummm!

Did you make this recipe?

Just in case I haven’t said it enough – I love bread! Any thoughts or comments are welcome in the section below. You can also reach out over on Instagram at @bitemykitchen to share your creations!

Reviews

Ingredients:

Adjust Servings
7 g instant dry yeast
220ml warm milk
1tsp sugar
500g bread flour
1/2tsp salt
20g sugar
50g unsalted butter (melted)
30g unsalted butter (melted) for brushing

Directions

1.
Making the dough
Combine the warm milk, yeast and sugar in a jug or small bowl and set aside in a warm spot for roughly eight minutes or until frothy. In a large bowl or stand mixer, add the flour, sugar & salt. Whisk for a few seconds.
Make a well in the center and add the melted unsalted butter and the yeast mixture. If using a stand mixer, use a dough hook on low speed until a dough ball forms OR if you are using your hands turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for fifteen minutes or until dough is smooth. Place in a large bowl (greased with some oil) and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Grease the dough with a little bit of oil to prevent it from drying. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for one hour or until dough doubles in size.
Mark as complete
2.
Shaping the bread
Once the dough is ready, use your fist to punch down the dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and divide into three equal pieces. Roll each portion into long ropes, about 50cm long, Place the ropes on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cross the ropes over each other to create a plait. Tuck in each end under the loaf. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set aside for another thirty minutes or until dough rises by half.
Mark as complete
3.
Baking the bread
Preheat oven to 180°C. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the extra unsalted melted butter evenly over the loaf. Alternatively you can also use an egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm with butter, it's the best!
Mark as complete
Notes
If you do not have any type of bread flour, all purpose flour will do just fine.
You can share the braided bread with friends and family, enjoy it toasted or as sandwiches for days before making French toast with the last slices.
You can totally do an egg wash with one egg and one tablespoon of water instead of melted butter if you have eggs on hand. An egg wash gives the bread a more glossier shine.

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