How To Braid Bread

You can give your favorite kneaded yeast bread or coffee cake an intriguing twist by shaping it into a braid. For picture-perfect results, just follow these easy directions.

Plan to make 1 braid from a recipe based on 3 ? To 4 cups bread, and two braids from a recipe based on 5 to 6 cups of bread.

Preparing the dough:
1. Mix the bread up dough following recipe directions.
3. Punch down.
4. For each braid, split the dough into thirds and shape each portion into a ball.
5. Cover and let rise 10 minutes so dough will be easier to handle.
6. On a lightly floured surface roll each ball into an equally thick rope approximately 16 inches .
7. Line up the three ropes, 1 inch apart, on a greased baking sheet.

Braiding the bread:
2. (Working from the middle is simpler and helps avoid stretching the dough, which results in an uneven loaf.)
3. Braid the ropes loosely so that the dough has space to expand without any cracking or losing its shape.
4. Gently sew the ropes on the baking sheet.
5. Pinch the ends of the ropes together and tuck the sealed portion below the braid therefore that the ropes, won?t come apart during baking.
6. Cover the braid and let rise in a warm place till nearly twice.
7. For a crisp, shiny crust, brush the braid using a mixture of 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon milk.
8. If desired, sprinkle with a little sugar, sesame seed, or poppy seed beneath every braid.

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