The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


ibor's picture

How long will my braided bread be?

March 8, 2012 - 11:53am -- ibor

A contribution to predicting the length a braided loaf will have

In bread braiding, given a certain amount of dough the hitherto still unsolved problem is how to control de size of the finished product.

The final dimension of a simple loaf of bread is not so hard to manage; braiding that same amount of dough however, introduces a new unknown factor into the equation. Braiding a rope shortens its length since it has to traverse other ropes diagonally in the procedure. Proofing the braided dough increases its volume, as does oven spring.

ibor's picture

Braiding bread dough. Where the heavy work lies

February 10, 2012 - 2:56am -- ibor

I have years of experience in bread making but what still stumps me is the heavy work of rolling out the ropes needed in braiding. While doing this I  lighten the effort by rotating the ropes to let the gluten relax, but it still takes me 50 minutes of exertion to form four 12 in ropes.

Do professionals have an easier way of doing this (without special machinery) or I just have to take my hat off to them? I do it any way.

ejm's picture


When I made challah earlier this year, I thought I did a 6 strand braid to wrap around the 6 strand woven ball. But it wasn't until I made festive bread this Christmas that I realized how to do 6 strand braiding correctly.

Braiding bread dough is really pretty easy. Even 6 strand braiding, once you get the hang of it, is pretty easy. But you don't have to tell anyone, if you don't want to. The final result is SO impressive!

The main reason that it's easy is that dough strands stay exactly where they are placed. This is a good thing. I highly recommend that you skip the step of practicing with ribbons or chords and go directly to bread dough. What does it matter if the braid is wrong the first time? The bread will taste just as good. And chances are, the braid will be JUST right!

6 strand braid © ejm December 2008
6 strand braid © ejm December 2008
6 strand braid © ejm December 2008
  1. Take the 2nd from left strand in your right hand and the 1st from the left strand in your left hand. You right hand goes all the way over all the strands to the right; your left hand goes over two strands to the center.
  2. Take the 2nd from right strand in your left hand and the 1st from the right strand (just a moment ago, this strand was the 2nd from the left...) in your right hand. You left hand goes all the way over all the strands to the left; your right hand goes over two strands to the center.
  3. repeat 'til finished. Tuck ends under.


This is what the finished braid looks like. Beautiful, isn't it? Note how the ends have been tucked under.


The bread recipe and more braiding photos are here:

I could never have managed this without looking at the following several times:


edit: I made a video of 6 strand braiding!

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