Pillow Soft Braided Bread

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This Pillow Soft Braided Bread is an absolute dream to not just look at but also eat. Take a bite and float away into its pillowy-soft interior, so rich and just ever so lightly sweetened. Best of all it is a breeeeeze to make. All of the ingredients are pantry staples we are sure you already have. The only part you have to worry about here is the braiding. You can go as intricate as a 6, 8, even a 10 braid. Or go as simple as a 2-3 the choice is yours. We have shared two braiding techniques below, the nest is the easier one and bakes up beautifully.

This bread lends itself to both savory and sweet applications. Toast a thick slice and spread on some butter and jam for a delicious breakfast. Everyone knows egg enriched breads make the best french toast (hint hint, use the leftovers to make our French Toast Creme Brulee)! It also goes great with cheese or za’atar and olive oil.

Braided bread, such as this one, enriched with eggs is very common in eastern Europe and is called different names depending on the city (kalacs, chalka, challa). Each country adapts it slightly with different topping and different oils, but the base remains that same.

What you will need to make our Pillow Soft Braided Bread

Notes for the Perfect Loaf:

  • When proofing your dough, pick the warmest place in your house. If the AC is blasting everywhere or your home is in a cold area, turn the oven lights on and place the dough in the oven to proof.
  • Watch this video a few times before you braid the loaf, watch it over and over until you get the pattern of braiding down. It might seem complicated but trust us, it is simpler than it seems and a skill worth learning.
  • When rolling the strands go slowly, do not force it. If your dough is resisting cover it with a warm towel and let it rest for 5 min, then try again. Try and make sure the strands are smooth, it will make for a prettier loaf.

Making the Bread

Mix the dough

Mixing the dough is soooo simple, and most of the ingredients you probably have in your pantry. The dough is just a tad sticky but still very workable. This recipe will make you two loaves, we always end up making two and sharing with our neighbors. You can easily halve the recipe and add 1 extra egg yolk to your mix.

In a separate bowl whisk together lukewarm water with yeast and 1 tbsp of sugar. Let that sit for 10 minutes (no longer) to proof.

Next whisk in the vegetable oil. Then the 4 eggs (one at a time), then the sugar, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add in your flour and give it a mix on medium-low.

While the mixer is running, slowly add your egg mixture to your flour. Increase the speed to medium-high, once the dough comes together, let the mixer kneed the dough for 8 minutes. The dough should mostly be coming off the side of your mixing bowl (if there is a sticky part at the bottom that is fine). If it is too sticky add 1-2 tbsp of flour to help it along.

Braided Bread Dough

After 8 min scrape out the dough, form it into a ball, and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Cover with cling film and let that proof for an hour in a warm place. If your house is cold you can turn the oven lights on and place it inside the oven to proof. After one hour of proofing, the dough should have doubled in size. Punch it down and let it proof for 30 more minutes.

Shaping your dough

If you are making the full recipe, divide the dough in half. Work with the first one and place the other one back into the bowl and cover with cling film to avoid it drying out.

Divide the dough into 6 even pieces (use a scale) and roll each into 45 cm strands. Work on them one by one while the rest of the pieces are resting under a damp towel. You don’t need to flour your counter to start, it will make the rolling much more difficult. Instead, start rolling out a piece, if you feel it is sticking to the counter verrrry lightly dust your hands with flour and try again. While you are rolling the dough if you feel the dough is resisting and keeps shrinking back, do not force it, place it under a damp towel and let it rest for 5 min while you work on the next piece.

When you are done place all the strands parallel next to each other, pinch the tops to start your braid.

This is really simple when you get the hang of it, it will be the same motion throughout the braid. Move the second strand from the right (strand 5 ) all the way to the left. Then take the strand furthest to the right (strand 6) and move it to the middle between strands 2 and 3. Now move strand 2 all the way to the far right and place strand 5 in the middle between strand 6 and 3.

Now we will just repeat the same movement. Move strand 4 all the way to the left, and move strand 1 to the middle between strand 6 and 5.

Move strand 2 over the far right, and place strand 4 in the middle between 1 and 5.

Move strand 3 over to the far left, and place strand 2 in the middle between 1 and 4.

Move strand 6 to the far right, and place strand 3 in the middle between 2 and 4.

Continue with the same motion all the way down.

Tuck the end and top underneath, place the loaf on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Whisk 1 egg well, and brush the dough with the egg wash. Let it proof for 30 min while the oven preheats to 190°C. Brush the loaf once more before placing it in the oven for 35-40 minutes and bake until golden brown. If you have an instant-read thermometer the temperature should read 87°C when inserted into the center of the bread.

If your loaf is browning to quickly feel free to tent it with some aluminum foil while it bakes.

Repeat with the second loaf or try a different braiding technique. Steps for the nest weave is below.

Nest Weave

Divide the dough into 4 (not 6) balls. Roll the balls into 45 cm strands and interlace them (see first image below). Start working in a clockwise motion. Always remember “what is under, goes over the neighbor”. Move strand number one over strand 2 to the right.

Move strand 3 over strand 4.

Move strand 5 over strand 6 to the left.

Move strand 7 over strand 8. You have now completed one circle.

Now we go in the opposite direction starting with strand 6.

Move strand 6 over strand 3 to the right.

Move strand 4 over strand 1.

Move strand 2 over strand 7.

Move strand 8 over strand 5.

Now we start again from the top.

Move strand 7 over 4. You get it, now continue doing this until you have no length of strand to work with.

Trim the edges to even them out, and tuck them all beneath your weave. Place your loaf onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top with some egg wash. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds (optional), and let proof for 30 minutes while your oven preheats to 190°C. Brush the loaf once more with egg wash before placing it in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. If you have an instant-read thermometer the temperature should read 87°C when inserted into the center of the bread.

Braided Bread
Braided Bread
Braided Bread
Braided Bread

If you make this Pillow Soft Braided Bread let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #thetablediaries on Instagram. We love seeing all the recipes you and your family enjoy. 

5 from 1 vote

Pillow Soft Braided Bread

An easy recipe for a beautiful, fluffy, yummy bread. Makes you wonder why we buy bread!
Servings 2 Mega Loaves
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Resting 2 hrs

Ingredients

  • 1000 grams all-purpose flour 8 to 8½ cups
  • 13 grams active dry yeast 1½ tbsp
  • 112 grams sugar ½ cup + 1 Ttbsp
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 5 eggs 4 for the dough + 1 for the egg wash
  • cup lukewarm water around 38°C
  • ½ cup vegetable oil plus more for greasing the bowl
  • sesame seeds optional

Instructions

  • ****This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread. If you would like to make just one please check the notes at the bottom of this recipe***

For Making the Dough

  • In a separate bowl whisk together lukewarm water with yeast and 1 tbsp of sugar. Let that sit for 10 minutes (no longer) to proof.
  • Whisk in the vegetable oil. Then whisk in the eggs (adding the eggs one by one). Then whisk in the rest of your sugar and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add in your flour and give it a mix on medium-low.
  • While the mixer is running, slowly add your egg mixture to your flour. Increase the speed to medium-high, once the dough comes together, let the mixer kneed the dough for 8 minutes. The dough should mostly be coming off the side of your mixing bowl, if it is too sticky add 1-2 tbsp of flour to help it along.
  • After 8 min scrapes out the dough, form it into a ball, and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Cover with cling film and let that proof for an hour in a warm place. If your house is cold you can turn the oven lights on and place your dough inside the oven to proof.
  • After one hour of proofing, the dough should have doubled in size. Punch it down and let it proof for 30 more minutes.

Braiding and Baking

  • Divide your dough in half. Start working with one half while keeping the other covered with cling film to keep it from drying
  • Divide the first half into 6 balls (use a scale) and roll each ball into a 45 cm long strand. Place all strands vertically parallel to each other and pinch the tops together.
  • Move the second strand from the right all the way to the left. Move the first strand from the right two strands towards the middle. Now take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the strand to the far left and move it 2 strands over towards the center. This is your rhythm. Continue until all the strands are braided. Refer to the images in the blog for more elaborate instructions and for the second option of nest weaving.
  • Tuck the end and top underneath, place the loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Whisk 1 egg well, and brush the dough with the egg wash. Let it proof for 30 min while the oven preheats to 190°C.
  • Brush the loaf once more before placing it in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. If you have an instant-read thermometer the temperature should read 87°C when inserted into the center of the bread. If your loaf is browning too quickly feel free to tent it with some aluminum foil while it bakes.
  • Remove bread from the oven and allow to cool before slicing. Once cooled make sure to wrap your bread in cling film to extend freshness.

Notes

This recipe makes 2 loaves. Feel free to halve the recipe for one loaf. You will just need to add an additional egg yolk to the recipe:
500 grams all-purpose flour (4-4 1/2 cups)
13 grams yeast  (1 1/2 tbsp)
56 grams sugar (1/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp)
1/2 tbsp salt 
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk for the dough
1 egg for the egg wash
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Course: Bread, Bake, Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine: Eastern European

Join the Conversation

  1. 5 stars
    Ur recipeis heaven , i made it many time and add some extra flavour like cheese or zaatar or chocolate .. completely in love your bread.. we need more recipes 😩😩😩

    1. Thanks a lot Lama for your comment it filled our hearts with joy. Lovely knowing this recipe has been useful. We will keep the recipes coming we promise:)

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