Today I'm bringing to you the tradition of bread making with my recipe for homemade Guyanese plait bread. I would like to dedicate this post to my late grandmother Inez Glen, from West Ruimveldt Housing Scheme, Georgetown, Guyana. My grandmother was a master home baker. She made the most delicious breads, cakes and pastries out of a homemade oven in her backyard. She passed down her cooking genes to all generations of our family and I am forever grateful that she gave us these traditions!
You don't need fancy equipment to make plait bread! Yes, making your dough in a stand mixer with a dough hook makes life a bit easier, but it is not necessary for this plait bread recipe. This is not a quick bread. It needs time to rise, punch down and rise again before baking. But it is worth it. There is nothing better to me, than fresh baked bread, especially when paired with Pepperpot on Christmas morning. You don't need a special occasion to make bread when it is this easy. I'm sure you have the ingredients in your pantry right now. Mix it up and let it rise, you could have plait bread in about 2 hours.
The Step by Step Video Tutorial
Bread is always better with butter
If you watch the video you will see that I accidentally added ½ cup of butter to my dough for this plait bread instead of ¼ cup (what I typically use) but it made the bread the softest bread I've ever made. No need to use ½ cup of butter though ¼ of butter produces great results and is all you really need. Room temperature butter is better for this recipe but room temperature margarine or vegan butter works great too.
Shaping the dough
Plait bread has a signature three strand weave or plait. Some people top that with a single strand, some people leave it without. There is no right or wrong way, just depends on how your family did it.
If you are not a fan of plait bread, use this recipe to make two loaves of bread instead. After the first rise, punch down and knead the dough into a ball, then divide the dough ball in half and roll into two logs. Place on a greased baking sheet or in two loaf pans and let the dough rise again before baking. If you prefer wholewheat bread try this Guyanese Style Wholewheat Plait Bread recipe. It is an oldie but yields delicious results.
Braiding the Bread
Braiding the bread takes practice but once you get the hang of it, it's quite simple.
Start by rolling the dough into three equal strips.
Then cross over right over left. Leaving the top open.
Continue to work your way all the way down.
Then rotate the ends and go right under left to finish off the braid.
Continue all the way down and tuck the last bit under the loaf.
You can make the loaf with or without the topper strip of dough. That's simply up to you.
Proofing the bread
For this recipe we proof the dough twice. Once before braiding and then after it has been braided. The second proof is the most important. You must be patient and allow it to proof for the full hour at room temperature. If you don't your bread will rip apart in the center as it continues to rise during baking.
Printable Recipe Card
- 1 tablespoon of dry active yeast
- 1 ¼ cup of warm water 110 °F
- ¼ cup of brown sugar
- 3 ½ cup of all purpose flour plus more for dusting
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup of room temperature butter ok to use vegan butter, plus 1 tablespoon for basting after baking
- Add warm water to a mixing cup, then dissolve the sugar in water. Next add the yeast and give it a stir. Then cover with a towel and set aside in a warm place to bloom
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt and mix together well. Then add the butter to the flour and using a fork or your fingers rub/cut the butter into flour until a crumbly texture forms
- Next, form a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture then add the activated yeast mixture,
- Mix together to slowly form a pancake batter consistency, this is best achieved using a whisk. Then use your hands or a rubber spatula to pull the rest of the flour into the mixture to form a soft dough ball.
- Then turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes into a smooth ball or until the dough bounces back when pressed with a finger
- Place dough ball into a greased bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise until it doubles in size. This takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour
- When dough doubles in size, punch down and knead again into a smooth ball then cut 2 inch piece of dough off from the ball and set aside
- Then divide the remaining dough into 3 equal parts and roll into even logs that are about 12 to 15 inches long. Next plait the three pieces into a braid by going right over left with alternating logs of dough
- Roll the 2 inch piece of dough that was set aside earlier into a long strip, place the strip on to of the braided loaf, then place loaf on a greased baking sheet
- Cover and let rise for an hour at room temperature or until it doubles in size
- Preheat over to 350 degrees
- Bake bread for 25 minutes (30 if you like it dark), until it is golden brown
- Remove from the oven and brush with 1 tablespoon of butter, cover with a towel and allow to cool completely before serving
- To speed up the dough rising process, place covered dough in a warm oven (turn oven on to 200°F for 10 minutes, then shut it off). This is great to speed up the first proof, but should not be used for the second proof or your plait will rip apart.
- For best results let the second proof happen at room temperature and let it proof for the full hour.
- After my bread cools I place it into a bread bag to keep it fresh. If you don't have a bread bag you can wrap it with a clean kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.