I first made this Spelt and Chia Fishtail Plait Loaf about 2 years ago when my daughter insisted that I learn how to do a fishtail plait. After a few views of a YouTube video I managed to do my daughter’s hair with great success. This then got me thinking, why not transfer this technique to bread. I made a video of myself making the bread but wasn’t happy with it so the recipe stayed in my notebook until now! In my original recipe I used half spelt and half strong white bread flour but not having any of the latter I made an all spelt version this weekend and decided to add chia seeds to an extra healthy touch.
The resulting loaf is such a pleasure to look at, tastes great and is packed full of fibre and nutrients, it really does tick all the boxes. I think it would be great for a special picnic or to have with soup or even with some homemade jam which is how we christened it! I have to say I hadn’t made a yeasted loaf for far too long and it’s so therapeutic – the whole process is a total joy. I’ll never understand bread makers, to me they are soulless machines which take away all the fun of bread making.
If you aren’t acquainted with fishtail plaits you could always watch a YouTube video first to get you on the right path! As this loaf is quite long before plaiting you will need someone to help you plait or alternatively you could make the fishtail shorter but a thicker loaf will require longer in the oven. If it starts to brown too much on top then turn it upside down.
Spelt and Chia Fishtail Plait Loaf
- 500 g White spelt four or half & half with white strong fllour
- 1 x 7g Sachet of fast action yeast
- 1 tsp Caster sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Chia seeds
- 300 mls Warm water
- 1 tbsp Light olive oil
- A little milk for glaze
- Extra chia seeds for decoration
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Pour the oil into the water and then stir into the dry ingredients until a dough is formed.
- Grease your hands with a little oil and knead the dough on a floured surface for a few minutes.
- Wash the bowl with warm water, lightly grease and replace the dough.
- Cover with greased cling film and put in a warm place until doubled in size (about 30 minutes depending on warmth).
- Knead the dough again on a floured surface for a few minutes to knock all the air out.
- Roll the dough out into a long rectangle about 43 cm long and using a long sharp knife cut into 8 equal sized strips but leaving the top end uncut (1 cm).
- You might want to give the dough strips a light dredging of flour to stop them sticking together.
- Part the dough strips down the middle to leave a big gap.
- Start plaiting the dough by passing the outer strip from one side into the middle and then push it over to join the opposite side’s strips (you will need help with this as the strips are very long).
- Repeat this with the outer most strip from the opposite side.
- You’ll find you will go over 3 strips on one side and 4 strips on the other.
- The trick is to keep a large “parting” down the middle and remember that the strips are joining the opposite side each time.
- Once you have finished plaiting pinch the tail ends together, lift onto a large greased baking sheet and fashion into a circle.
- Tuck one end of the dough plait over the other end.
- Cover in greased cling film and put in a warm place to rise for another 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 220⁰C.
- Brush a little milk over the loaf and scatter over chia seeds.
- Bake on the middle shelf of oven for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 200⁰C.
- Bake for a further 12 minutes or until bottom of loaf sounds hollow when knocked.
- Cool on a wire rack.
If I’ve put you in the mood for baking bread you might like to try these recipes: