Twisted daring bakers challenge..Braided bread

May’s Daring Baker’s challenge came with a twist, our host asked us to make  enriched bread which is braided or shaped.

If you try to research braided bread you will find that it exists in almost every Eastern European culture. Bohemians and Czechs call it houska. Poles call it chalka, Ashkenazi Jews refer to it as challah.The Swiss call it Zopf. When you go through the recipes you will realize that enriched braided bread is also  reminiscent of French brioche.

Shapes:

Braided breads come in a variety of shapes, they can be made into a 3 strand braid,

four strand braid or even a six strand braid.

 There is also a braided round shape

 or a braid that has been formed into a ring. I find shaping the bread into other forms like a flower or these twist easier that making the perfect braid. On a side note my daughter loved the shape of the 6 strand braided bread and has been nagging me to try it on her hair!

Toppings, fillings and additions:

This is the part where you can let your imagination and creativity run wild. Top your braided bread with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, vanilla sugar or any other topping that appeals to you. You can also knead raisins, chocolate chips, candied orange peel, dried fruit into the dough to give your bread a yummy “twist”.

You also have the option to fill your braided bread, cinnamon sugar and chocolate are the most common but there is a wide variety of fillings and flavors. A note worth mentioning about filling though is that filled strands need more care during handling and braiding as they are prone to tearing.

Eggwash or not to eggwash:

Egg wash is used to enhance the top crust of the bread.  It adds shine and crispness, and enhances the beauty of the breads. I personally have issues when it comes to eggwash, no matter what I add to the egg wash I feel that the end product still smells slightly “eggy” so I use a wash that a dear friend of mine called Sohad taught me, you’ll find it with the bread recipe.

I made 4 braided breads, two using a recipe for hoska bread from my friend Sohad that uses oil instead of butter and sweetened condensed milk and one using my sesame bread recipe

Hoska braided bread

Ingredients
Makes 4 loafs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
3 teaspoons yeast
1 kg flour,(8 cups) white flour
Pinch of salt

Instead of the eggwash use

2 tablespoons milk powder

3 tablespoons lukewarm water 

1 teaspoon sugar 

1/4 teaspoon instant coffee 
Instructions:

Mix the condensed milk, yeast, oil, water, and eggs in the bowl of your mixer

Add the flour one cup at a time and knead using the kneading attachment or by hand till you get a soft dough 

The dough will be slightly sticky due to the sweetened condensed milk, don’t worry once the dough rests it will have a wonderful consistency

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rest till it doubles in size
Punch down the dough and divide it into 2 parts to make 2 big loafs or 4 medium ones
Divide one part into 6 equal parts
There are two basic methods for forming the strands .  The first, and easiest, is to simply roll snakes between your hands like when working with clay or play dough.  The second method is to use a rolling pin to roll out a flat disc of dough, then using your hands to roll the disc into a snake, rolling the snake on the counter with your fingers to achieve the length you need.  This second method does result in a better rise, but either way works well.  Whichever method you use, form your strands such that they are thinner at the ends and fuller in the middle.
Braid the bread using this technique
If you want to make the 4 braided one divide the dough into 4 parts, make strands and braid using this technique. or watch the video above, it shows how to make a 3,4,5 and 6 strand bread.
Center your oven rack and preheat it to 180 C
Brush with eggwash or the milk mixture
Bake for 30 – 45 minutes  until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
 Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah!  Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Sesame bread braid

I used the same recipe I use to make kaaek bel semsem  to make a 3 strand braid

Thank you Ruth for this awesome challenge, it was fun learning how to do the different braids

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