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Simple Plaited Loaf

by James Morton

If you want a recipe that is dead easy, but makes all your friends think you’re an expert, look no further. To make this loaf, all you need to know is how to plait a pigtail.

Prep time

2 hours

Cook time

35 minutes






Like all my bread recipes, there’s no kneading involved. Yes, it still takes quite a while, but it’s time you can spend doing other things. You could probably fit in a quick batch of fairy cakes whilst you wait!

The dough is based loosely on my recipe for Challah – a plaited loaf of Jewish origin and a particular favourite of mine. I’m led to believe it’s traditionally saved for holidays and the Sabbath – in my house, it’s an everyday affair. It’s a light, slightly sweetened dough with an egg for a little extra richness. For that beautiful shine on top, all you need to do is brush over an extra egg mixed with a little salt. This is a technique you can apply to any of your breads and it never fails to give a stunning shine.


Step 1

Start by adding your flour, salt and yeast to a large bowl. Mix them together to distribute them evenly. Then, add in your milk, egg and sugar, and use a wooden spoon to form this into a very rough dough.

Step 2

Cover your bowl with cling film and rest your dough for 30 minutes or so – there’s no need to knead. After this time, stretch and prod and generally fiddle with your slightly-risen lump. This whole process has replaced kneading.

Step 3

Re-cover and rest your dough for another hour or so at room temperature, until doubled in size. Alternatively, you can place it in the fridge for 8-12 hours.

Step 4

Turn your risen dough out onto a well-floured surface. Use a knife or a dough scraper to cut it into three equal lumps. Use both hands to form each lump into a sausage shape. Then, roll each backwards and forwards against your surface make each sausage longer.

Step 5

Once you have three sausages over a foot long, it’s time to plait. Arrange them like an arrow pointing upwards, the tips of all three forming a point. Start to plait just like you would hair – right strand over the middle, then left over the middle, and onwards. Don’t pull too tight.

Step 6

Once you reach the end of the dough, press the strands down to seal, then leave to rest for another hour at room temperature. About 15 minutes before you’re going to bake, preheat your oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas7.

Step 7

Just before it’s time to bake, beat together an egg and a pinch of salt. Brush this over your loaf, then place it in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. It should be a dark golden brown colour, and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped.


Top Tip:

For a great contrasting look and a bit of crunch, try sprinkling a handful of sesame or poppy-seeds onto your loaves after brushing them with your egg wash.



  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • One sachet (7g) easy bake yeast
  • 10g table salt
  • 300g Graham’s semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 medium eggs – one mixed with a little salt, for an egg wash
  • 40g caster sugar