RECIPE: Braided Bread

by Dana on July 5, 2008

Making bread isn’t hard. You just have to factor in the time it takes for everything to rise. If you’ve never made bread before, this recipe is a great one to start with. Similar to a Challah bread, we call this Braided Bread at our house. And it’s become a weekly staple. Get it started in the afternoon while the kids are napping and enjoy it that night with soup or salad.

If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer (or other brand) the process is even easier because the machine kneads the bread for you. Dreamy. But if you don’t have a mixer, no worries! Good old-fashioned kneading with your hands is perfect (and it’s a good workout too).

This bread is best fresh from the oven and the day it’s baked. Once it cools completely, store it in a zipper-sealed bag and it’s usually good for another day. After that, it tends to dry out. So take the kids to the park and feed it to the ducks!

If you want to have this for breakfast, the best method (so that you’re not up at 5am kneading):
Make it the night before, bake the loaves, let them cool and keep them in zipper-sealed bag. Wrap them as much as you like to keep the air from getting in. In the morning, wrap the loaves in a bit of foil and warm them in the oven for a few minutes. I did this once for a baby shower and it was perfect! Still fresh, soft, and tasty.
Okay, let’s get started.
(additional instructions at the end for making a Cinnamon Loaf)

BRAIDED BREAD
Makes 2 loaves

1/4 cup warm water
2 ½ tsp yeast (or one yeast packet)
1 Tbl sugar
1 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbl butter

2 ½ cups flour
1 egg
1 ¾-2 cups more flour

In a drinking glass or bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast and sugar. Set it aside for about 10 min to rise.

In your mixer, combine the hot water, salt, sugar and butter and mix. Once the yeast has risen, add 2 ½ cups flour, 1 egg and the yeast. Mix all together (using your mixing paddle arm.)

Add 1 ¾ cups more flour and mix until a ball forms. If the dough is still too soft, add more flour until the dough feels like squishy play-dough. Take the paddle arm off your mixer and put the hook arm on. Turn mixer on to the number “2” setting (if you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer) and let machine knead the dough for 7 minutes. OR knead the dough by hand for 5-6 minutes on a hard surface.
Spray a large clean bowl with cooking spray. Put the dough in the bowl and cover with a cloth to keep from drying out. Place the bowl in a warm place (like the oven with just the light turned on). A good trick my mom taught me is to turn on your oven for just 10 seconds to let it warm up. Then turn it off and put your dough in there to rise. Don’t let the oven heat for too long though, or it will bake your dough (rather than rising it). Just a few seconds is all you need to get it warm in there.

Let the dough rise for a couple hours.
Punch the dough down and let it rest for 10 minutes. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Using a knife, divide the dough in half. Starting with the first ball of dough, divide it into three pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14 inches long.
Pinch the 3 ropes together at the top, braid the ropes, and pinch the ropes together at the end:
Squish the braid together slightly and place the braid onto the prepared cookie sheet, sideways. Repeat with the other ball of dough and place on the same sheet.
Cover cookie sheet with a cloth and let rise for about an hour.
Using a fork, whisk together one egg and 1 T. water until well combined (also known as an Egg Wash). Dip a crumpled paper towel into the mixture or use a paint brush and paint the egg wash over the tops and sides of the braids. Be careful as you brush that you don’t press too hard or you may deflate the loaves. Heat the oven to 350º (remove the rising braids before heating the oven!).

Bake for 14-18 minutes or just till they start turning golden brown. Let the bread sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Serve with butter and fresh jam. Enjoy!


For CINNAMON BREAD
(This is for 1 loaf of bread)

When I make Braided Bread, it’s fun to turn one of the loaves into Cinnamon Bread. It’s okay to have dessert for dinner, right?

For the Cinnamon Loaf, divide the dough into 3rds (just like you did above) and roll each rope out kinda long and flat (and not too wide) with a rolling pin. Spread each flat rope with Cinnamon filling (recipe below) then pinch the whole thing together so it makes a long rope, with all the cinnamon sugar hidden inside. Try to keep all the cinnamon sugar inside so it doesn’t spill out while cooking. Some of it still will, but do your best. Lastly, braid the 3 ropes together. Place it on the same baking sheet with your other loaf.

CINNAMON Filling:

1 T. butter melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
(melt the butter in the microwave then add sugar and cinnamon and mix together)

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christina March 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Dana – question. Any idea how to break down this recipe for a bread maker? We have one we use with the recipes that came with it, but since I don’t have a paddle for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, figured I could use the bread maker to mix the dough.

I just have no idea how to break down the mixing portion for the bread maker. I am just going to mix the warm water, yeast and sugar separately, then add the other ingredients to the bread maker, then add the yeast mix and the flour. I can add additional flour to the dough and knead by hand.
If you have a better idea let me know, otherwise I’ll let you know how this works out! :)

Thanks, looks beautiful can’t wait, and fingers crossed it works!

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2 Christina March 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Mixed it all by hand with the help of my mom. She is not a fan of the bread maker, she says it’s cheating and refused to help me figure it out that way! :)

Currently it is rising in the oven and I can’t wait for the deliciousness that is about to fill the air in my house. I am definitely making cinnamon loaf out of one of them too.

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3 Shannon March 18, 2012 at 10:58 am

Christina you could probably make this in your bread maker! Try putting all the ingredients in your bread maker according to your bread makers instructions. I know mine says to add liquid ingredients first, then dry ingredients, then make a well to put the yeast in last. Then set your machine to the Dough Cycle and when it’s finished just take it out, form your loafs and follow directions after that.

I dont feel like its cheating at all. It just does the mixing, rising and punching down with less mess!

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4 Jodi March 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I just wanted to say that I have tried several bread recipes with NO luck… This recipe is the BEST…. I have used it several times and my FAMILY LOVES IT!!….. Comes out great everytime…. THANK YOU….

Jodi~

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5 Cheryl May 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

I am making this recipe – warm water is usually around 110 degrees – what temp for hot water? So not too hot for yeast? Will try around 120 degrees.
Thank you!!

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6 Cassie August 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Could you use this recipe to make braided spaghetti bread? I really dot want to use already made bread would rather make my own.

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7 CarinaRdz September 29, 2012 at 10:02 pm

This issuch a great recipe! I’ve made it several times and it turns out great everytime! Itseemstobe averyforgiving recipewhichis great for first time bread makers. Thank you so much for sharing.

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8 Irma October 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Your braided bread looks much too pale for me. And your instructions sounded really funny – you`ll never get a REAL braided bread with them – that tasty one we have with our afternoon coffee!

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9 Sammy February 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm

This is amazing! I don’t have a mixer that’s fancy so I had to do it by hand and its baking in the oven as we speak. I hope it turns out good like all the other comments say (: I love bread

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10 Jan March 24, 2013 at 10:15 pm

I have to thank you for posting this recipe :) I actually make it about once a week for a couple months now, it seems!! Everyone always thinks it’s so fancy! Little do they know how easy it is :) Two of my favorite ways to eat this are to cut it lengthwise and then put in some butter with garlic powder and parsley. (I would just use garlic but I don’t ever have it on hand because I don’t use it enough.) Then I wrap it in tinfoil and pop it back in the oven for 5-7 minutes to melt. REALLY good that way. The other way that I tried today and *loved* was to add 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and 1 tablespoon of rosemary. It kind of made the dough a little softer, in a way, so I gave up trying to braid it and just make baguettes. The taste was *so* good, though! Reminded me of Macaroni Grill’s rosemary bread. Another must have for me is an electric knife. I got one a couple months ago and use it for every loaf. No squashed slices and it’s easy when I cut it in half lengthwise. Anyhow!! Just wanted to thank you! I love this recipe :)

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11 Rose December 13, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I am a senior lady who has used a recipe just like this for years. Many years ago my aunt taught me to make it. You can put it in the refrig overnight to rise for the first time. In the morning it will be at the top of the bowl.. No kneading is ne essay. My recipe does not use as much flour just enough to make a soft dough. This can be used for cinnamon buns, crescent rolls, Parker house rolls, etc. Just learn the shaping techniques in a good cookbook.

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12 Monica January 1, 2014 at 4:23 am

I’m glad I found this recipe through pinterest. I’m from Panama and it’s tradition for us that we have a special bread for Xmas and New year called “rosca de huevo” in English not sure how to say it but it is braided and rounded. Only one bakery in my country makes this bread for December but since I’m not in Panama, I’ve been trying to replicate something closer to their bread with no luck until i came across with this wonderful recipe. This is the closest I.could get to that bread and it is sooo delicious. I made some modifications like adding an extra egg, more butter and baking powder (I don’t know if its needed for bread) but using your recipe as the base and it turned out very fluffy and moist. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

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13 vicki September 23, 2014 at 10:55 am

This is my first attempt at making bread it’s just rising now and I’m really happy with how it looks…excellent recipe for a first timer ☺ thanks for posting

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