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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Braids/Zopf (Single Strand)

Raisin Braid
Almond Flakes Braid
Nearly every european country has it's own version of braids.  3 strands, 4 strands, button knots, rose knots etc. After watching  a video Lily sent me, I had to make this single strand braid.  It looked so simple. Using only 1 long strand of dough and in 4 steps the lady made a beautiful perfect braid.  Ha !  I was soooo wrong.  Confirmed! . Just watching the steps is not enough.  LEARNING BY DOING !

To start, I need to get a good flour.  Hopped over to my friend Dieter, who owns a flour mill, for advice. He first gave me a tour through his flour mill and then a quick lesson on the fine details of varieties/type of flour, percentage of moisture, humidity and grades of milling......  Long story short, I came home with a 2.5kg bag of Type 405 strong flour.

After mixing and kneading, I realised the dough texture with this flour is different.
Poked a hole into the dough with finger and the dough sprang back immediately.  After proofing, the dough became much more relaxed, ie stretchable.

 1 kg Type 405 coarse wheat flour (doppelgriffig)

100g sugar
500ml tepid warm water
50g soft butter
1 level tsp salt
2 sachets yeast (7g each)

1.Mix 1 tsp sugar,100ml warm water with yeast in a small bowl.  When all dissolved, sprinkle over with some flour and let stand for 15 mins. or until it bubbles.
2.Sieve flour into a deep bowl together with all ingredients, keeping back 100ml water  for 'just in case'.
3.Add in the 'live' yeast and mix, knead (manual or with machine) till you get a sticky homogenous dough.  Remember, during leavening/proofing, the flour will absorb more liquid and swell.
4.Cover with cloth, leave to rest for an hour in a warm place.
5. Divide dough into 2 portions.  I divided mine into 600g and 1kg.
6. Add a handful of raisins into the 600g dough.  Pleat and let proof.
7.Pleat the 1kg portion (plain) dough and let proof.  Proofing time should be about an hour.
8.Set oven temperature at 220°C for 30 mins.
9.Brush braids with eggwash.  I sprinkled the kilo braid with almond flakes.
10.  Place in oven (at middle level) and bake.
11. After 15 mins, set oven temperature down to 160°C and bake another 45 mins.

Now.......... How to braid

First, you roll the dough into a strand of about 60-70 cm long
The right end is A, left end is B. Take one end (the right end A) and place it on 2/3 lengh of strand.
 Take the left end (B) and bring it over A, slip it under strand towards '2 o'clock'
Adjust the loop....
bring it down into an oval loop
Twist the loop (clockwise) from left to right to form figure 8
Bring down B and tuck it under end of oval loop. Adjust to shape.

After proofing, it will look like this
Brush with eggwash and sprinkle with almond flakes and bake.

Viola !
Serve just with salted butter or with extra portion of apricot or quince jam.  YUMMY ! 

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