So you want to weave a 12
strand braid of bread, hm?
then. Let's get started!
I recommend challah
(Jewish egg bread) or pan au lait (milk bread) for this - anything
stretchy and chewy will work, though challah and pan au lait have
given me the best successes. After your bread dough's been
benched and everything, you'll need to portion out 12
They need to be
roughly the same length, but definitely the same thickness.
For my example here I've used marzipan ropes, because I did not have
3 hours to whip up some challah. What I did have, however, is
marzipan. So there you go. Set 2 ropes aside for the
center piece, and lay out your ropes - bend them in half, and lay
them out, overlapping each other at the center, like
Continue for all ten
strands, moving in a circle. When you've come to the last one,
tuck that last strand *under* the first one you set down. It
will look roughly like this:
Now, we're going to
group them off in sets of four. It is VITALLY important that
the strand on the left of the group is one of the *under*
strands. You can see what I mean here. We'll number
these strands 1 through 4.
Starting with the
strand on the left of the group, strand 4, fold that strand OVER
strand 3, the one to the left of it.
Now move strand 4
UNDER strand 2.
And now OVER strand
This should seem
pretty familiar - we're doing nothing more than weaving. Over
and under. Over and under. Continue on down until you
run out of strand. Don't make your weaving too tight - your
bread needs room to proof up, and when you bake it off, oven spring
will tear your braid to pieces if it's too tight. I made mine
EXTRA loose, since I'm working with marzipan and want you to see the
configuration of the strands easily. Your strands should be
touching, you can't see the table through it, but not pulled
Cut the ends off and
tuck the end under all nice-like and pretty.
Now scootch on over
and do that with the rest of the groups. You can actually have
as many arms on this as you want; just keep the number of strands
even and pair them off in groups of 4. Someday I'll do a
sixteen strand, just because I can. Your braid will look like
this, but better, when you're done.
Now, remember the
two strands you set aside? yep. Thought so. Make
those into a 2 strand braid. You should know how to do one of
those, if not - you're on the internet. Go find out how.
You're going to ball up the 2 strand, and place it in the big gaping
hole in the center of your fabulous braid. Mine came out so
fabulous, it blurred the photo a little.
For another festive
touch, you can curl the arms in. It makes it look like a
starfish or the glaive from the movie Krull or something. But
it's pretty. Something else cool to do is to sprinkle the arms
with seeds after the egg wash - I like to do herbs; a different herb
per arm. Rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, and sage. Or
you could do seeds; poppy, white sesame, anise, dark sesame, I
dunno. The possibilities are endless. Just don't go all
weird and use chocolate or crushed crayons or something.
There you go!
Your very own 12 strand braid! Aren't you proud?
did a 16 strand braid. Because I could. Before I baked
it into a bowl shape, it looked like this: