If you’ve made your own bread, you’ll know the feeling of pure satisfaction in dipping your hands into warm dough that has just been through its first rise.  Soft, warm dough that almost melts between your fingers…dough that feels so delicate yet that’s sturdy enough to withstand gently pushing out the air and shaping.  Most of the time, white bread dough is shaped into a log, and for me, always with a bit of trepidation that all of the rolling and fussing will impede the proof in the bread pan.

This time however, the experts at King Arthur Flour challenged me to a new bread-baking level…a level I had avoided for so long with the fear that I’d totally screw it up.  And frankly, I almost did because I was so caught up with taking notes and photos that I didn’t fully absorb the instructions that I was actually taking notes about and photographing.  Go figure.

But anyway, we baked a traditional loaf and a braided loaf from the same batch of dough (totally made by hand, I might add – no stand mixer!) and I am still tickled pink with how my braid turned out.  And it was so much easier to do than I thought it would be!  Like any loaf of white bread, the braided loaf will make great sandwiches since the bread recipe itself is such a fantastic one.  I froze both loaves when I got home and have been enjoying a piece of the traditionally-shaped loaf in the mornings for breakfast with some butter and either rhubarb strawberry or peach vanilla bean jam.  Homemade bread + homemade jam = perfectly harmonious breakfast.  I plan to use the braided loaf described below for something special that I’ll share with you guys soon!