This plaited loaf is made with 6 braids, rather than the more usual 3 and needs to be started the evening before.
- 330ml milk
- 550g strong white bread flour
- 7g fast action yeast
- 50g olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Oil for greasing
- 1 egg, beaten, for brushing
- The evening before, mix all of the milk, half (275g) of the flour and the yeast.
- Cover with clingfilm or a shower cap and leave overnight in the fridge.
- The following morning, remove the bowl from the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature.
- Mix in the other 250g flour and the remaining ingredients.
- Knead, according to your chosen method.
- Shape into a ball and place in an oiled bowl and leave, covered until almost double its size.
- Deflate the dough and repeat the previous step.
- Divide into 6 - use your scales - trying not to deflate the dough too much..
- Roll each piece into 'sausages' about 20 cm in length.
- Hold them upright in front of you and attach the ends to each other.
- Take the first right-hand braid and pass over the following two (2-3) under 4 and over the last two (5-6).
- At this stage, the first part finds itself at the end beyond braid 6 and braid 2 is found at the extreme right.
- You continue as before, so take what is now braid 1, pass it over 2 and 3, under 4, and over 5 and 6.
- Repeat these actions until the plait is complete and then seal the end.
- Cover and allow to proove.
- Brush with the egg and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180° C (350° F - gas 4), [fan oven 160° C & reduce cooking time by 10 mins per hour], for 50 minutes.
- You may wish to turn the bread round after 30 minutes, if your oven is like mine and cooks unevenly and I would recommend that you turn it upside down for the final 10 minutes of the cooking time.
- When baked, allow to cool on a wire rack.
- This is my own recipe, but the plaiting method is explained at Ma Cabane aux Délices.
Add flavourings to taste, such as onion powder, tomato purée, seeds, grated cheese etc.
The plaiting was not that difficult, but you need to keep the braids quite tight. When dividing your dough, use a metal dough cutter as this will give a cleaner cut.