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The Art of Braiding Bread

¡¡¡¡¡¡¡New update coming soon!!!!!!!!

May 2014
"The Art of Braiding Bread" has been updated

It now has 541 images and 9 videos.

What's new:
 The Sunburst Bread Braid (Scroll down to see it)

Visit my other blog "The 12 Strand Club" and accept the challenge of braiding with 12 strands.


This is a synopsis of my book “The Art of Braiding Bread”

Why is braiding bread significant

Presentation is very important in nutrition. From the moment we are allowed or decide to choose our own food we select what we want to eat. First we look at it, then we smell it and lastly we taste it. And only then, if all our senses approve, we swallow it. Later we remember what we liked and disliked, in lasting impressions. If when we look at food what we see seems appetizing we are more inclined to smell and taste it. A simple loaf of bread might take away our hunger but a braided loaf announces that somebody spent time preparing something special for a celebration.

Learning How to Braid Dough
If you thought braiding dough was uncomplicated or straightforward you would not be looking at these lines now. In the book we start with the most basic of braids, the one with 3 strands, and then patiently and progressively go up to any number of them, with practical step by step description of the process. Braids have been classified systematically so now it is easy to refer to a particular braid and compare it with other ones.

There are Quick Reference Guides for some braids, which you can print out and have at hand when braiding.

The book offers something even for proficient bread braiders; some chapters present a challenge, in video form, in which braiding is carried to the professional level.

The book is eminently visual, illustrated with 541 diagram enhanced pictures and 9 videos. The game plans can be replicated at home at your own pace. Nothing is taken for granted, and you can try the procedures over and over again until you COMPREHEND them. Furthermore, if you don’t succeed today, come back tomorrow.

"The Art of Braiding Bread" is available in two versions, both in English. One is published by Amazon and the other by Smashwords. The two have the same price.  

To find out which version suits you best I suggest you use the “Look Inside” feature of Amazon books or the “Download Sample” of Smashwords.

The Art of Braiding Bread.English version (Purchase here)

Even if you don’t have Amazon’s Kindle tablet you can read these books in your computer by downloading a FREE Kindle Reading Apps.

The Art of Braiding Bread. English version (Purchase here:

If you purchase the book through Smashwords it offers you multiple ways of downloading it:
Online Reading (HTML, good for sampling in web browser)
Online Reading (JavaScript, experimental, buggy)
Kindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps)
Epub (Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others)
PDF (good for reading on PC, or for home printing)
RTF (readable on most word processors)
LRF (Use only for older model Sony Readers that don't support .epub)
Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices)
Plain Text (download) (flexible, but lacks much formatting)

I invite you to buy the book. In the meantime I offer you some excerpts from it.
Thank You
Table of Contents of The Art of Braiding Bread

The case for braiding bread
Presentation is very important in nutrition. Before ingesting food we try to make sure that it will be safe to do so, and hopefully also enjoyable. To help us with the decision our different senses cooperate with each other. First the eyes must approve it, then the nose has to agree and finally the tongue makes the last pronouncement.

This mass of dough, when baked like it is will give you an acceptable loaf.
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But this same amount of dough can be enhanced by braiding it
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And your bread will look like this
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Braiding the bread gives it added value, a more professional look.

Some people don't know how to or are afraid of braiding bread dough for dread of ruining a batch of it. To get skilled at braiding take about 1 cup (circa 4 oz or 114 g) of all purpose flour and add enough water to make a workable mass. There is no need of kneading this dough, just form ropes with it and practice. You can re-form it as many times as you like. The cost is negligible and it will keep a long time, well wrapped, in the refrigerator. The gluten will give out after having used the dough for some time, discard ¼ of it and replace with new so you don’t lose the feel of the real thing.

I don’t advise using Plasticine or Play-Doh because it will soil your kitchen work surface and doesn’t behave like real bread dough.

The abundance of salt in ”Pate Mort” destroys the gluten of the mixture and again you will not have the experience of the authentic material.

If you want to learn how to braid dough don’t try practicing with yarn, string or rolled up wet paper towels since this will only make things more difficult for you because these materials don’t have the plasticity of the original.


Braiding 3 Strands of Bread Dough
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Roll out 3 strands of dough, of equal length and diameter, with tapering ends.
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Pinch together the strands at the top.

Have the book in front of you and repeat the moves just as you see them there. In order to guide you I have drawn a red line on the rope you have to move and an arrow showing the direction in which you have to move it; after you did, the displaced strand is again highlighted. At first you will make the moves mechanically, repeat them until you gain an understanding of the process.

There is only one way of braiding 3 strands, but there are several ways of describing or presenting the procedure.

Description I

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Take the right hand strand and pull it over the one next to it.
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You will obtain this.
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Then take the left hand strand and pull it over the one next to it.
And this is what you will get.

That is all there is to it, now keep repeating the moves until you reach the end of the strands.

Description 2 (see the book)
Description 3 (see the book)
The Double Rope 3 Strand Braid.
Note how a simple modification can lead to such an interesting pattern.

The Triple Rope 3 Strand Braid
This carries the multiple strand concept one step further.
There are two variants: (see the book)

Improving the 3 strand braid
In relatively long braids the inevitable pulling on strands makes the braid become progressively more elongated and consequently uneven. To prevent this, start the braid at the middle of the ropes.
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54-2DSCN3328 UR  55-3DSCN3329 Ur  56-4DSCN3332 Ur
There are also other ways of arranging three strands in order to start the braid from the middle of the ropes. Both techniques I am going to present next will give you a nicely proportioned loaf.
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Initial display
The 6 Pointed Star Way
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Initial arrangement

The Double Decker
A simple thing like placing one braid on top of another one gives the loaf volume and an appealing visual effect.
Cut off 1/3 of the dough and braid both parts.
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The Triple Decker
In this case, holding together the 3 stages with wooden dowels is imperative.
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How to control the size of a braided loaf
In bread braiding, given a certain amount of dough, the hitherto still unsolved problem was how to manage the size of the bread.
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Comparison of two braids, each made with the same amount of dough into 4 ropes but braided using different techniques. The one on the right resulted in a braid 10% shorter (and consequently plumper) than the one on the left.
According to my studies linear braids of 3,4,5 and 6 ropes diminish in length an average of 20 to 25% from strand to finished bread.
Consequently, once you decide how long your braid should be, the ropes you roll should be longer in the corresponding percentage.

Bread Wreaths
They make an attractive centerpiece for any dinner table. Use an inverted plate or bowl to determine the inside diameter of the wreath and then measure its circumference. Calculate the length the ropes should have according to what was mentioned earlier.
In this case the threads must have the same diameter throughout (no tapered ends).
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Cover the union where the ends meet with a small braid.
The surface of ropes can be made intriguing by creating epi cuts on them.
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Going Beyond 3 Strands
Although having learned to plait with 3 strands may have opened up a whole world of experiences for you, it is in human nature to always want to go beyond. So let’s tackle braiding bread with from 4 to an infinite number of ropes.

The 4 Strand Braids
Since we will be examining multiple ways of braiding 4 strands I have arbitrarily given them names derived from the Greek alphabet for identification.

The 4 Strand Alpha Braid
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The finished braid
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The baked loaf
This is a simple flat braid useful as it is or as a base for a multiple decked loaf. It is also particularly interesting, when braided a bit loosely, if you wish to embed objects in it such as eggs, candles (Saint Lucia Day) or similar, which with other kind of patterns might end with an unbalanced, asymmetrical result.

Greek Easter bread with colored eggs inserted in it, made with a 4 Strand Alpha Braid.

The 4 Strand Beta Braid
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The 4 Strand Gamma Braid
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The 4 Strand Delta Braid
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The 4 Strand Epsilon Braid
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It is worthwhile to try this technique because of its versatility. As we shall see further on, its basic moves can be used with any number of strands, from 4 up, even or odd (see further on "The 5 Strand Delta Braid" and “The 6 Strand Alpha Braid”).

To make braiding easier “Quick Reference Guides” are interspersed throughout the book
Collage Quick Reference Guide


Braiding with 5 strands
Delving into various 5 strand braiding techniques I have again taken the liberty of randomly assigning them names derived from the Greek alphabet.

The 5 Strand Alpha Braid
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The 5 Strand Beta Braid
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The 5 Strand Gamma Braid
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An interesting feature of this braid is its asymmetrical end result.

The 5 Strand Delta Braid
This plaid uses the same basic moves that were presented in the 4 Strand Epsilon Braid.
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The finished braid
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The baked loaf

The 5 Strand Epsilon Braid
This interesting braid  is formed by one side feeding the other and vice versa.
Among other uses, this five strand plait is suitable for long braids because it can easily be started from the middle of the ropes and consequently produce a balanced outcome.

The braid was made into a wreath.


Doing It With 6 Strands

The 6 Strand Alpha Braid
As was mentioned before, the technique used in the 4 Strand Epsilon Braid can be upgraded to any number of strands. This is the example with 6 ropes.

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The finished braid
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The baked loaf

The 6 Strand Beta Braid
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The 6 Strand Gamma Braid

This tress takes the 4 Strand Beta Braid one step further.
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The 6 Strand Delta Braid
The finished braid

The baked loaf

The 6 Strand Epsilon Braid

The finished braid

Notice the chain link arrangement of the strands

The Two Four Braid
Why the name? Because you use 2 strands but end up working with 4 extremities.
In this case it’s the threads that are numbered and not the positions.

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The finished braid

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The baked loaf

With this braiding technique the combination of shrinking due to braiding, expansion of proofing and oven spring result in a circa 34% of length diminution from rope to finished bread. That means you will obtain a nice plump loaf with it.

The Twist
Just twisting 2 ropes of dough together can lead to multiple uses for it. First of all, as is, either baked in free-form or in a pan. Then it can be formed into a wreath or serve as a base or top in a multi-decked loaf.
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Repeat the moves described in the pictures, across an imaginary axis.
The finished twist
A braided twist makes an interesting wreath.


The Octopus Way of Braiding Dough
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How to Braid a Round Loaf of Bread

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Arrange the threads as shown above

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The braided dough

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The baked loaf

Variations on The Round Braid

The Sunburst Bread Braid

Here we are combining two different kinds of braids in a single loaf.

A Sunburst Bread Braid

is composed of two parts. The Crown,

and the Centerpiece

Your Remarks are welcome, post them at the end of this page at the Comments section