The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread braiding

  • Pin It
ibor's picture
ibor

Bread braiding

Has anybody figured out how much does a
six strand braid "shrink" after being braided. I mean, if I want a
bread of a determined finished length, with what length "strands"
should I start with ?

Finally I answered the question myself, please refer to: " myfoodaddress.blogspot.com/ "

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Here is a photo of three challah.  Each was made from 508g of ~60% hydration dough (ala Hamelman).  From the left, they are braided with 6, 5, and 4 strands (weighing 508/n g each) that were rolled to somewhere between 1/2" and 3/4" diameter. Each challah is about 4" in diameter and 14" long and cooling on a 16.5" wide rack (the wire spacing of the rack is 1/2" so you can measure reasonably well from the photo).  Each strand was probably 16-20" long but they relax and stretch as you braid them.  So the scaling law would seem to be that for a 4" dia challah use 508L/14 grams total dough weight and 508L/(14n) grams per strand where L is the desired length in inches and n is the number of strands. If you want a larger diameter challah, multiply the weight per strand by the ratio of desired loaf cross-sectional area to the area of a 4" dia circle (roughly) but make each strand the same length as it would be if it were going to be made into a 4" dia loaf (I think this requires two steps - to get the diameter right you have to make a 4" dia loaf and measure the length of the strands and check the diameter of the finished challah).

Enjoy!

 

(edited with enhanced memory)

ibor's picture
ibor

Thank you Doc.Dough.Nice loaves

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

Dear Doc.dough,

Someone should compliment you not only on the thoughtfulness of your note but also on your wonderful braiding.  I've been baking challahs for years and still have much to learn from you.  I'm impressed!  Any chance you're in the metro-NYC area?  or maybe somewhere else I visit?  I'd love to drop by.

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

Why are yours the same width from one end to the other?  Why do yours look so lovely and consistent?  Why are mine such lumpy bumpers?  Oh, yeah.  I have fumble fingers.  LOL. Those really are a lovely set of loaves!

BettyR's picture
BettyR

My problem is that one of my strands always stretches and breaks like a weak rubber band. The bread itself turns out good but it doesn't look very pretty. Does anyone know what I'm doing wrong?

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

It sounds like the gluten in the strand relaxed.

Here's a video on bread braiding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peBLtCEOlA0

The braids are formed immediately after rolling the strands.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

You might try using a higher gluten flour, developing the gluten you have more completely, using a lower hydration dough, working the dough cold, and don't try to make a tight braid (it will tighten up on it's own as it proofs).

BettyR's picture
BettyR

lazybaker wrote:
It sounds like the gluten in the strand relaxed. Here's a video on bread braiding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peBLtCEOlA0 The braids are formed immediately after rolling the strands.

I live in a rural area and all we have out here is dial-up so I will set it to download overnight and watch it tomorrow.

Doc.Dough...
I'm using a high gluten flour, the recipe I'm using is not really that wet and I'm using a bread machine to do my kneading so I don't think that's the problem. I do however usually try to make a tight braid so that's probably where I'm messing up. I'll try making a looser braid next time and see what happens....Thanks for your help!

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I have been baking bread for 45 yrs, but the photo is of my first attempt at braiding. I watched a number of YouTube videos to make sure I understood the braiding process, but the recipe is straight from Hamelman (Bread - A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes; my all-time favorite book on bread) - except that I retarded the dough overnight so that I was weighing and rolling cold dough (which increases the working time so that you are not running to such a tight timeline that you can't get it all done). There is a section in the book  that covers braiding in some detail.  I never thought I would use it, but it was nice to have when I wanted to try.  The drawings are good, but the instructions leave something to be desired (thus the help from YouTube). The egg wash was pureéd with a hand blender and included a little water to thin out the yolk, and it was run through a find strainer to get the last bits of membrane out before application to the challah.  I found a technique on YouTube for applying the seeds that worked exceptionally well - after you have applied the egg wash to the challah, you dip your thumb in egg wash once and then go back and forth between a small dish of seeds and the loaves.  It allows you to put the seeds where you want them and makes the seeds stick tightly enough that they don't fall off in the oven (and these were baked in a combi oven using high fan speed so if they were inclined to come off they would have done so in the oven).

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

Dear Doc.dough,

Last night I, with some cheerful volunteers, brought 65 challahs to the braided-and pre-second rise stage, put them into a fridge, and went home to bed.  Actually, I put 24 or them into a freezer.  All will be glazed, some seeded, and then all baked today by 3pm, again with the help of my merry band of baker-volunteers.  All this is for charity.  We made the dough in a Hobart A200 with a 20qt bowl and a J-hook to do the mixing/kneading.  The baking will be done in two shelf ovens and two institutional (meaning heavy) oven ranges.  I'm hoping I can get my volunteers's minds wrapped around the task of watching the loaves in the ovens carefully enough, keeping in mind that we've no idea which ovens run hotter than others.  Wish me luck!

Thanks for the all the information about your challah recipe, braiding and seeding decisions.  I'd not seen your seeding pattern anywhere and could not decide how you produced it.  Now I know.  I've usually not been so careful about the seeds; I just sprinkle them on sort of willy-nilly. 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Rich - So how did your 65 challah turn out?  That is more than enough to invoke the law of large numbers.

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

My 65 challahs turned out just grand.  All but two were sold.  One was given as a gift; the other, a tiny one and hence unsellable, I kept.  I sold only ones that scaled at 605 gms.  I made the dough, braided the loaves and refrigerated most on Saturday night.  The ones I didn't refrigerate I froze.  The frozen ones I took out first the next morning; I baked them last.  The refrigerated ones I baked serially over the course of the day, selling them after they'd cooled to the customers at a holiday fair.  Mid-afternoon on Sunday, after thanking my helper-elves, I went home and collapsed, a happy baker!