six strand braiding

summary: 6 strand braiding for festive bread; submission for yeastspotting (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

edit: please see our six strand braiding video

braiding Before attempting the six strand braid for the bread made for BBD#15, I practiced a fair amount with coloured chord; we have a number of 6 strand braids hanging on the Christmas tree…. Braiding chord is not easy. It slips around and the strands unravel given the slightest chance.

Braiding bread dough, on the other hand, is really pretty easy. Even 6 strand braiding, once you get the hang of it, is pretty easy. But you don’t have to tell anyone, if you don’t want to. The final result is SO impressive!

braiding The main reason that it’s easy is that dough strands stay exactly where they are placed. This is a good thing. I highly recommend that you skip the step of practicing with ribbons or chords and go directly to bread dough. What does it matter if the braid is wrong the first time? The bread will taste just as good. And chances are, the braid will be JUST right!

braiding This is what the finished braid looks like. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Here’s how to do a 6 strand braid. Using both hands prevents a world of confusion.

6 strand braid

First cut the bread dough in 6 even pieces and roll each one into a long rope. Try to make each rope the same length. It’s better if you refrain from using any flour. There is so much butter in this dough that it is unlikely to stick to the board. Place the 6 ropes in a fan shape and pinch the pointy end of the fan together.


  1. Take the 2nd from left strand in your right hand and the 1st from the left strand in your left hand. Your right hand goes all the way over all the strands to the right; your left hand goes over two strands to the center.
  2. Take the 2nd from right strand in your left hand and the 1st from the right strand (just a moment ago, this strand was the 2nd from the left…) in your right hand. Your left hand goes all the way over all the strands to the left; your right hand goes over two strands to the center.
  3. repeat ’til finished. Tuck ends under.

edit 24 January 2009:
Please look at our 6 strand braiding video
edit 20 September 2009:
Please also see a round 6 strand braided challah (as well as more detailed photos of round 6 strand braiding technique here).

* Click on images to see larger views and more braiding photos

** I could never have managed this without looking at the following several times:

braiding Because there is so much sugar in this festive bread dough, the yeast is very active and it takes no time at all for it to rise, even in a cool kitchen (ours is around 15C right now).

Admittedly, this particular bread was allowed to rise too much and flattened out. Even so, it was completely delicious.

Isn’t it wonderful that bread is very forgiving!

Yeastspotting - every Friday ( image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:

This post is partially mirrored on The Fresh Loaf


edit 24 January 2009: Following CAM’s suggestion in the comments below, we put together a video.

This entry was posted in baking, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, equipment and techniques, food & drink on by .

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10 responses to “six strand braiding

  1. Baking Soda

    Impressive Elizabeth! Do you mumble a mantra while braiding, trying to keep track? I know I do!

    If “Left! Right! Left! Right!” is a mantra, then yes, Karen. But I don’t mumble it. I say it out loud rather firmly because otherwise I know I’ll lose track. ;-) -Elizabeth

  2. CAM

    Oh my, I looked at the directions for braiding and got very mixed up. I think I will leave the baking to you! I did, however, try making vinaterta from your recipe and found it very clear and easy to follow. My daughter and I followed the very clear directions very precisely. It was really excellent! My father said something to the effect that “it may be as good as your mother’s.” My mother, who used to make it, said, “it might be better.” Thank you for taking the time to put these recipes online, and for your very entertaining blog. Happy New Year!

  3. ejm Post author

    Thank you, Katie, I must admit that I’m pretty impressed with myself too. :-) (And our Christmas tree was lovely, although there are SO many decorations on it all the time that the 6 strand braids weren’t easily seen. :hohoho:)

    No, really, CAM, 6 strand braiding is easy!! (So happy to hear that your vinarterta turned out well, and that those instructions at least were clear.) But I see you’re not alone in having difficulty with my instructions for the 6 strand braiding. Stefanie (Hefe und Mehr) had troubles too and ended up looking at the video that is linked in the post to understand. As Stefanie said,

    Für alle, die jetzt so verwirrt gucken wie ich beim ersten Mal: Video anschauen. Das erklärt mehr als tausend Worte.

    – excerpt from Hefe und Mehr: 6-strängiger Zopf

    translation: For those who are now as confused as I was the first time: Watch the video. This explains more than a thousand words.
    (thanks to Google translation service)

    And she’s right!! I had hoped my diagram would replace the thousand words but still, I’m very happy to have clarified the technique for myself.

    The interesting thing that Stefanie noted is that in the end, the bread looks like it has two braids on top of each other. The braids that were on our Christmas tree were more like chains – they were completely round.

    Hmmmm, I wonder if there is a way to bake the bread in an upright position so that the chain retains its round shape. :-D


    6 strand braiding instruction: part 1 6 strand braiding instruction: part 2

    Repeat til finished and tuck ends under.

  4. Navita

    U r an artist Eliz (if I may call u that..)…wonderful braided bread…love ur challahs…and I guess the bug has bitten me again…will have to try this one…n as u said..even if the braid doesn’t come out fine..the bread still tastes gr8! :p

    thanks for stopping by n u have an amazing place.:) don’t be a stranger anymore.

    Thank you Navita. That’s kind of you to say. When you make the challah, do let me know how it turns out! -Elizabeth

  5. Jude

    That is so intimidating… I’ve made a 6-braid but it’s really just 2 triples on top of each other. Does that count?

    But, but, it’s not at all meant to be intimidating, Jude! It’s actually quite easy once you know how. The 6-strand does end up looking like 2 triples on top of each other, but the beauty of it is that the top one doesn’t want to shift around as the bread rises. -Elizabeth

  6. CAM

    Here’s a YouTube video: You could even embed this into your blog posts. Or make your own You Tube video! I see there are a few youtube videos on this subject.

    Thanks for posting the link to this video, CAM. After watching it, we’re thinking seriously about making our own YouTube video of 6-strand braiding because I think my two hand method is clearer. :-) -Elizabeth
    P.S. Did you see the 5-strand braiding video in the related subjects on the linked YouTube page? Very cool and REALLY easy looking.


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