I love braided breads; being able to put artistry back in the kitchen is a passion of mine. I've done three strand loaves for awhile, but chose to tackle something decidedly more challenging this week. I made mine with the regular sourdough, but any type of dough will work. Another fun thing to do is brush filling with cinnamon or cheese between the strands, but that's for another time.
The best resource on this bread is a video I found on YouTube, so thank you MayaSophia! She gives a great visual as to how to braid these loaves, otherwise my explanations would just be confusing.
The first step for me was to sponge the bread. I took a photo to show what sourdough sponge should look like:
The next step was to mix the dough and let it rise. I then divided it into six parts and rolled each into a snake, pinching them together at the top:
Then comes the braiding, which is demonstrated in the video:
Continue to braid until the entire loaf is finished, then pinch and tuck each end over. Set it on your floured peel and allow to rise for 1 hour.
Brush the loaf either with egg or olive oil (used here) and allow to bake at 400 for 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown. These loaves typically take longer since they're more dense. What I love about braided breads is that you can break them apart and dip the little sections in oil or sauce, so this is pictured next to spinach dip (see Spinach Artichoke Dip Rediscovered for recipe).