Five-plait loaf

Five-plait loaf


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About this recipe: A recent 1st prize winner at our village show. The recipe for the bread is fairly standard although it needs to be made slightly drier than usual. What follows is a guide to making a five-plait loaf which can then be extended to 7 or 9 strands if you're feeling ambitious.

Makes: 1 five-plait loaf

  • 340g (12 oz) strong white bread flour
  • 110g (4 oz) brown bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) warm water, more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon active dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 small handful poppy seeds

Prep:40min  ›  Cook:1hr  ›  Extra time:3hr proofing  ›  Ready in:4hr40min 

  1. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl and then add the flours and the salt.
  2. Place the warm water in a jug and add the yeast and sugar and whisk well. After about 15 minutes a mound of froth should have appeared on the top. Add this to the flour and start to mix by hand.
  3. A little at a time add extra water until the dough starts to come together. Turn onto a dry board and knead well (at least 10 minutes) to allow the gluten strands to form and stretch.
  4. Clean the bowl and then re-oil. Put the dough back into the bowl. Lightly oil one side of a piece of cling film and then place this, oiled side down, over the bowl. Allow to rise for at least 2 hours.
  5. When it has doubled in size take it out of the bowl and knock it back. Now weigh the dough and cut into 5 equal chunks by weight.
  6. Now comes the tricky part. Roll out each chunk into a long sausage shape and place on a baking tray covered in baking parchment. Pinch the strands at one end together and arrange them so that there are 3 strands to the left and 2 to the right.
  7. Now take the outside strand from the bunch of three on the left over the other two and make a group of three on the right.
  8. Next take the outer strand from the right over the other two and make a new group of three on the left.
  9. Now repeat the process by moving the outer strands of the group of three on the left and make a group of three on the right. Then do as before with the outer strand on the right and so on. When you have plaited to the ends squash the strands together and tuck under.
  10. Oil another sheet of cling film and place oiled side down over the top. Allow to rise for another 30 minutes at least.
  11. Preheat the oven to 160 C / Gas 2/3. Place a baking pan in the bottom of the oven and fill with 2.5cm (1 in) of water.
  12. Mix the egg and milk together and brush the loaf and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  13. Bake the loaf for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature by 20 degrees. Bake for a further 30 minutes. Finally I always turn mine upside down and give it an extra 10 minutes before removing it from the oven and placing it on a cooling rack, the loaf is ready when golden brown and you tap it on the underside and it sounds hollow.


I'm sure everyone is familiar with the standard three-plait as so often used to braid hair. However all plaits are best made with an odd number of strands, for example if you want to try a 7 strand plait loaf then arrange the strands in a group of four on the left and three on the right and proceed as shown above. You might however need to roll out longer strands.


Use the yeast sold for hand baking, not bread makers.

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