Long ago, in a land not so far away, when a man died, his wife was burned on the funeral pyre. Eventually, the wives began to realize that they were getting the short end, here. So instead, as a gesture of grief and mourning, they'd cut off their
hair instead, and burn that. And it was alright, for awhile, until they realized that cutting off such a symbol of beauty lessened their value to potential second husbands. So they baked
bread in pleats, and burned braids of bread instead of their hair. And then they realized that it was an awful waste of bread, burning it like that. So they just
Bread braids are a beautiful tradition. It's a great way to serve something hearty and warm with a small artistic flair. Or not so small. I became quite good at bread braids.
This is a braid made with two strands, left, and three strands (with a two-strand ring), right.
A 12 strand braid, baked Artisan style. I figured out during school that 'artisan' and 'European' style meant almost burnt. Not my particular preference. I covered
each arm of this in a different herb or seed - black and white sesame, poppyseed, caraway, and basil.
This is another 12 strand braid,baked more the way I like it. Golden brown but still cooked all the way through. You can get flavor without charcoal.
I switched classes due to overcrowding shortly after the first part of breadmaking, and so I was free to start breads over again, and chose to do so. My new instructor
didn't know how to do a 12 strand braid, so I showed her how, and just to see if I could do it, I tried a 16 strand braid. I baked it in a bowl shape, but neglected to
get a picture of it after it was baked.
And she liked my braids so much, she sent them down to the school's cafe to be displayed.