Prepare a baking sheet with a non-stick spray. Then sprinkle flour over the surface of the baking sheet. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the pan.
Ready-made dough can be bought from the bakery section of the supermarket. Ask for it at the counter. It is usually sold in near kilograms. Buying the dough like this saves you time in kneading it, letting it rise, kneading down again and letting it rise again. The dough will rise on the way home and while you get ready to use it. It can even be kept in the fridge overnight.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour to prevent the dough from sticking to it. Dust your hands with flour for the same reason. Beat the dough down to rid it of trapped air when you take it out of the plastic bag.
I am going to make a large plaited loaf. Stretch the dough out into a long flat shape. Cut it into four almost equal lengths.
Gather the four strips together at one end.
If counting from left to right, fold number 4 (far right) over number 3.
Now fold no 2 over no 1.
No 1 has now become no 2. Fold no 2 over no 3.
Repeat these steps until you run out of dough.
Gather the ends together and tuck them in.
Mix one egg and a dash of milk in a bowl.
Brush this egg and milk mixture over the plaited loaf. This will give the bread a shiny crust when baked.
I like to sprinkle sesame seeds over the loaf, but there are plenty of options you may want to explore. Set the loaf aside to rise in a warm spot in direct sunlight. Covering it with plastic will speed up the rising process. Remember to dust the plastic with flour to prevent it sticking to the dough.
Once the dough is risen you can pop the loaf into a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius. It will bake 30 min to 45 minutes. You know it is ready when you knock on it and it resounds with a hollow sound.
Let me show you how to make smaller plaited loaves as well, since you won't often have use for such a large loaf. Prepare the baking tray in the same way as above; non-stick spray and flour.
Divide the bread into four long strips as above. Cut these strips into four each afterwards, giving you twelve stubby strips of dough.
My nephew wanted to assist and I stood next to him so he could easily follow what I was doing. Stretch out the stubby strips and gather them at one end.
Plait them exactly as above for the larger loaf.
You can once again brush them with the egg and milk mixture. This time I opted to sprinkle poppy seeds over the loaves.
The loaves are left to rise in the same way as the bigger loaf. They are then also baked at 180 degrees Celsius. The baking time will be shorter for the smaller loaves. Tap to listen for the hollow sound when done. These loaves can be sealed in a plastic bag and frozen. When ready to eat them, pop them in a preheated oven and bake for about ten minutes and they will be as good as on the day you first baked them.
Bread dough is reasonably cheap and I allowed my nephew to use him own initiative with the remaining quarter of a bag of dough. He formed two figures for himself and his sister. Here he is brushing them with the egg and milk mixture.
He liked the idea of the poppy seed sprinkles.
Clumsy little hands will not get everything perfect, but perfection is highly overrated in the learning process. The rising and baking process for these figures were the same as for the other loaves.
The small loaves cooling on a wire rack.
This loaf was for immediate use and was allowed to cool only slightly.
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