How to do a four strand challah braid

My friend Elisheva asked me how to do a four strand braid when baking challah. She saw the visual superiority of the four strand braid but was unsure about how to create it.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, several ways I can think of off hand to do a four strand braid  but this is an easy way to do it. I have used four strips of  fabric as my visual aid. When we braid hair or do a standard three strand braid you work your hands in both directions. With this four strand braid you weave only from left to right. (Yes, if you are a lefty you can braid going the other way)

Braiding hair always begins at the top. I was taught though that it is simpler to begin braiding a challah in the middle.

1- Here are my four strand waiting to be braided.Another tip for cute challot, don’t make long strands of dough. Stumpy strands end up  looking better. The act of braiding stretches the dough creating attractive striations in the challah. Long braids tend to look over worked and lumpy and unattractive.

I always start with the left most strand and weave it under and over all of the strands to the  right.

how to braid challah

2- The first  ( blue oxford cloth) strand is woven

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3- The yellow linen is now the left most strand so I weave that over and under until I get to the right most strand ( the blue oxford cloth)

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4- now strand #3 the slate blue linen is up next for weaving

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5 Then I wove the blue print

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6- I have lots of ugly ends sticking out. So I simply fold then underneath the challah.

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All ugliness  is hidden away. It is now time to

7-  Turn  the challah so the braided part is up top and then I can easily braid the rest of the challah

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8- The blue print is the strand furthest on the left so I start weaving with that one.

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After weaving over and under it is now the right most strand,

9- How the slate blue linen is ready to weave over and under. You can see that movement is now complete.

Next up to braid is the yellow linen.

 

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10 Now you see the yellow linen strand woven in.

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11- Tuck the ugly ends under the challah

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Your challah is complete

Comments

  1. This was always my favorite braid for challah. I have a small book with different challah designs for all of the holidays and a great diagram for the 4 braid challah.

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  2. I find this to be really quick. I also do some other fancier braids , but this is my standard. To tell you the truth, a five or seven strand braid doesn't look that different than a four strand braid. I have on occasion done a fat braid topped by a skinny braid, ..that is elegant nice for a show challah for a big event...like a wedding or other big deal simcha.

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  3. This is excellently helpful! I vaguely remembered that 4 is good and that starting from the middle is good, but I didn't remember about always starting on the left, and my efforts were so weird looking that I actually mushed it all together, redivided into 3, and did it over. This will solve all my challah-braiding problems -- am going to share it with David, too.

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  4. This method works with any number of strands if you want to get all symbolic with your challot, 7, 6, 5, or even 12 all work using this method. The greater number of strands tend to make a rounder looking challah..and frankly it mostly isn't worth the effort...but sometimes you just want to make it special. 3 always looks spindly even if you start out with fat strands. My father who was dexterously challenged used to bake challot in loaf pans and just weigh out 5, 1/4 lb lumps to make a loaf. His challot were delicious but I found his loaf forming method to be somewhat lacking in grace.

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