When looking at Instagram and at breakfast tables, I was often seeing beautiful braided breads and brioches and was always intrigued by their realization. Not the braid itself, but how to obtain a dough that wouldn’t be too sticky to actually make a braid. I didn’t do much search. My recently acquired cookbook again helped me solving that problem. The Challah Dough from bread in 5 is really a nice alternative between bread and very rich brioche dough and I’ve come to use it often. And that’s how I learned how to make braided breads. It is actually extremely simple, much more than I imagined!
The book recipe can be found on that page but I slightly modified it to fit my pantry and taste. So here is mine:
Braided brioche bread (for one 400g bread)
– 250g of flour + for dusting
– 1 egg
– 1/2 cup of tepid water (add slowly as a little less may be required)
– 5g of yeast
– 5g of salt
– 2tbs of brown sugar
– 25g of melted salted butter
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients. The order has strictly no importance. For some reason (habit for sure) I almost always start with the flour, though the book recommends to finish with the flour… I tried both and the result is basically the same. To mix things altogether I use my hands or Japanese cooking chopsticks if I am on a rush or multitasking and want to keep my hands clean. I then leave the dough to prove and wait until it has almost doubled in volume.
Once the dough has risen, using flour to dust I move it to a sheet of cooking paper. Then flatten it and cut in 3 for long braided bread, or 4 for the round ones. I roll them into 20-40cm sticks to make the strands, and start braiding. The 3 strands, braiding is obvious, and don’t need a picture. The 4 strands in circle, it is a little more tricky but not much actually, it’s just that you have to twist and turn 90deg, go up the first strand and under the second. The braids don’t have to be too tight, as the dough will rise again.
Leave for the second rise about 45-60minutes and then bake at 180deg for 20-25minutes, or until golden. Don’t over bake, it will make the brioche too dry, in particular if, like me, you like to eat it warm, and plan to warm it up in the oven before eating if you don’t eat right after baking. Oh… and I don’t use egg wash and they always come out perfectly golden.