Eight Strand Plaited Loaf
The Boys Do Bake Off - Series 3, Ep.2 - Bread Week
For this episode the bakers were set the challenge of creating a rather complicated loaf from the King of Dough himself, Mr Paul Hollywood. Plaited bread looks fantastic and makes a wonderful 'tear and share' loaf. This particular recipe is an 8 strand plait, but there are all sorts to try depending on how adventurous you want to get.
Start by combining your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl before adding a good slug of olive oil and about three quarters of your water. Bring together, slowly adding the rest of your liquid until a dough is formed.
Knead until silky and smooth then leave to prove until doubled in size. In a warm place this could be as little as an hour, but be patient in a cool room as it could take longer. Don't worry though as slow bread is even tastier.
When it comes to the plait don't be scared. If you can count you'll be ok. Start by joining all your lengths of dough at one end (furthest from you) to make a fan shape. Then number the strands of dough from 1-8 from left to right. Every time you move any strand it will take the new number of its position in the row. Step 1: place 8 under 7 and over 1 Step 2: place 8 over 5 Step 3: place 2 under 3 and over 8 Step 4: place 1 over 4 Step 5: place 7 under 6 and over 1 Repeats step 2-5, until all the dough is braided. Simple!
Ensure your tuck your ends under then place on a baking sheet to prove again. Once it has doubled in size you can brush with a beaten egg to glaze, but ensure you keep an eye on it in case it catches. Bake in a hot oven, 180C (fan), for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
Try to keep your hands off it whilst it cools.