Great British Bake Off/Baking Show, Series 3 (UK)
Technical Challenge– 8-Plait Bread Loaf
The technical challenge for this episode is an 8-strand loaf, in other words, a giant 8-piece braid. I think they just did a regular loaf of bread on the show, but I decided to do challah because it’s delicious and I’ve been wanting to make some lately. Let me tell you, I definitely felt accomplished after finishing this fancy plaited challah bread.
I ended up using a video from the YouTube channel of one of the GBBO contestants, Mat Riley to do the braid because I definitely needed the visual element to do this braid.
I’ve done braids before in my hair, and I’ve even done a 6-strand challah, but I haven’t done 8 and it’s a lot to work with!
Make Your Dough and Knead It
The challah dough is simple. I just combined yeast, warm water, and sugar and gave a few minutes for the yeast foam up. Then I added in the rest of the ingredients and blended it with a dough hook in my stand mixer.
I kneaded the dough by hand for 6 minutes and added a little bit of flour while I was doing it so my dough wasn’t too sticky to work with.
Proofing and Plaiting
After kneading, I put the dough in a greased bowl, covered it with siran wrap and put it in the warmest part of my house. I let it rise for 2 hours. After the first rise, I cut it into 8 equal portions and rolled out the balls into strips. Then I had to combine the ends together and start braiding.
I followed Mat Riley’s Youtube tutorial and you should too! I have the video embedded below for you to watch while you braid. As I braided, my dough was kind of stretching out and I didn’t make my braid tight enough so I ended up with a loose stretched out plait. Hopefully next time around will work better for me.
UPDATE: I made a six strand loaf after this and it came out perfect.
If you want to try and make challah and find the 8-strand braid too difficult, Kitchn included 6-strand braid directions or you could do the easiest, a regular 3-strand braid like you would do in your hair.
I also found this amazing blog post from Tori Avey on the many forms challah can take, you can braid it, loop it together, or make little mini buns. Check it out if you want to expand your horizons!
After braiding, I carefully transferred the loaf onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I covered it and let it rise for another hour.
Then finally it went into the oven! It cooked for about a half-hour. There’s two ways you can check for completeness. Either you can use a thermometer to check the internal temperature which should be at least 190°F to be done. The other way would just be to knock on the bottom of the load. If it sounds hollow, it’s done.
Plaited Challah Loaf
- 1 Cup Warm Water
- 2 Tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Tsp Salt
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 Egg Yolk (Save White for Egg Wash)
- ¼ Cup Avocado Oil
- Put warm water in your stand mixer bowl. Mix in sugar and yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. Using dough hook, add the rest of the ingredients and mix together until combined. The dough should be a bit sticky.
- Take out of bowl and hand knead for about 6 minutes. You can add a bit more flour so it’s less sticky. After kneading, place in a large greased bowl and cover let rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
- After it rises, cut the dough into 8 equal portions and roll out into 16″ strands. Combine the tops and braid together. Transfer onto baking sheet with parchment paper. Let rise another hour covered in a warm place.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the egg white with a little bit of water and brush onto loaf. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. You should be able to knock on the bread and it’ll sound hollow.