The Great South African Bake Off is in full swing at the moment and they are down to the last five contestants. There is so much to learn as the drama unfolds every Tuesday when the bakers gather to battle it out for the coveted title. They get to create their own bakes but also have to overcome technical challenges throughout the competition. Last night the technical challenge was to bake a six-stranded braided honey bread and this is the recipe I picked to do myself.
I love making bread and the notion of weaving six different strands with three alternating textures appealed to me. The recipe below is the exact recipe the contests and I were given but I think I would have failed the challenge. I only noticed while typing this up that I left off the finishing glaze because after making the bread the day before I never looked at the recipe again. At least I didn’t leave the yeast out of the bread though.
The weather wasn’t very warm when I made this last week so the proving took longer than expected and I made the loaf over two days. I wanted to bake it just before shooting it, so let it rest in the fridge for the night. This seemed to work ok and I allowed it to puff up for a few hours in the morning before finally baking it off.
The recipe is very exact in metric weight measurements so I was super careful to weigh everything precisely. My bread came out a little darker than I had hoped for and I had loosely covered it with foil to prevent over-browning. It could be that I have a hot oven, but bread generally fares better in the higher temperatures.
The braiding part seems confusing, so I Googled a few videos on how to do it and then followed the instructions they gave. It will all make sense once you are in the moment and actually making the bread.
An important note when making this bread, be sure to knead it until the dough is really soft and elastic. When weaving the braid, make sure you don’t wind it up too tightly as this will have a negative effect on the texture as it will prevent the dough from rising adequately. Fold it very loosely which will give it space to rise. If you taper the strands at the ends it makes it easier to weave and gives the loaf a lovely shape.
The bread tasted delicious and had a tender texture with the sweetness carrying through.
Recipe – six stranded braided honey loaf
Braided honey bread
- 405 g white bread flour
- 90 g water
- 90 g eggs
- 25 g yolks
- 40 g vegetable oil
- 40 g honey
- 15 g dry instant yeast
- 10 g salt
- 1 egg for glazing
- 50 g sesame seeds
- 50 g poppy seeds
- 30 ml milk
- 1 tsp sugar
- Preheat oven to 190 C fan setting.
- Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and knead until full gluten development has been achieved – 10 minutes.
- Bulk ferment until double in size (this means to prove the dough).
- Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and pre-shape the strands into 35 cm tapered strands (remember to taper the ends slightly).
- Lightly brush the 6 strands with eggs wash and roll two strands through the poppy seeds and roll two strands through the sesame seeds. Keep two strands plain.
- Lay the six strands vertically parallel to each other - Poppy Seed, Plain, Sesame Seed, Poppy Seed, Plain, Sesame Seed pinch the tapered end at the top together, then start the braid. Braid the far right strand (Poppy Seed) over two, under one, over two. Repeat the process until the end, keeping the braids fairly loose.
- Place the braided loaf on greased or lined tray and allow it to ferment to double in size (prove in a warm place)
- Bake at 190C for 15 Minutes then reduce temp to 160C for 30 mins
- Glaze with milk glaze as it comes out of the oven
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