[Daniel Ronay, baker extraordinaire, shares with us his step by step instruction on braiding challah. Photos by Daniel Ronay. CS]
Braiding challah is not that difficult, but it takes some patience and practice. I use a little flour to dust the strands. Sometimes the dough can be sticky, also when using dusting flour on the braids can be more pronounced. When dusting flour sometimes is not used the results can have an effect on the look of “baking blind” braids that looks like they weld together too much and are not well defined. I do not worry about a little flour if any remains. Remember we are going to glaze the challahs with an egg wash so the topical flour is washed away.
- When making your 6 strands ideally make your strands a little longer than your desired length of your challah.
- I make the strands with a “belly” in the middle, tapered on both end. The result will be a challah that is fatter in the middle and tapers to the ends. This is a desired look for some if not using a pan to bake the challahs.
- When braiding your challahs try to make the braids not overly tight. If the braids are too tight then when proofing it might have a possibility of tearing. There still has to be some tension though against other braid.
Picture (1) in this step we are making sure the strands are equal in length and thickness
Picture (2) in this step we are setting up the 1st braids getting them in place
Strand #3 is in your right hand and strand #4 in your left hand. Put your left hand on top of your right hand. Pick up strand #4 with your left hand and move it to the top upper left and same time put strand #3 next to where strand #4 used to be.
Picture (3) in this step we continue to braid the 2nd pairings.
Hold the far left strand #1 in your right hand, and the far right #5 strand in your left hand. Have your right hand on top of your left hand. As you pick up your right hand with strand #1, move it to the upper right and picking up with your left hand strand #5 have it come to the center where strand #2 is.
Picture (4) to make it easier to understand, think of it as trying to have 2 strands on the top and 4 strands on the bottom. This is basically the same step as in pic 2, but the far right strand is lower
Picture (6) we continue repeating the steps till the strand complete the braiding
Picture (7) Beautiful braided football type shape