Most of the time you just need to get food on the table. Sometimes, though, you want to create a culinary work of art, and making my tasty Woven Bread Basket is an easy way to do just that. These freshly baked, edible containers are so versatile and add a decorative addition to any special occasion or holiday spread.
If you like bread that’s almost too pretty to eat, try this braided Spelt Challah Recipe with Honey or one of my summer favorites, Raspberry Swirl Loaf. If you’re looking for something beautiful to welcome winter, make this show-stopping Cranberry Orange Brioche Star Bread.
What Makes This Recipe Work?
First, I love that this recipe is simple and easy to make but looks like you spent a lot of time on it. It uses the straight dough method which is a quick and straightforward way of making bread that combines all the ingredients together at the same time. There aren’t many ingredients, either, since it doesn’t use eggs or butter. These omissions help make the dough nice and stiff and easily workable with your hands.
Using your hands and playing with your food is another great thing about this recipe. It takes you back to arts and crafts time in school when you’d use play dough to create a masterpiece. That colorful toy was not-so-edible (even though many of us tried it), but this decorative bread basket turns into a snack after you’ve finished using it on your table!
Woven Bread Baskets can be used throughout the year. Use them to hold dyed eggs or Hot Cross Buns at Easter. During the summer, add flowers for a colorful centerpiece. Edible baskets work great for cornucopia displays in Autumn, filled with fresh fruit or small gourds, and are a creative way to showcase your favorite homemade cookies at a Christmas or other holiday party.
- Water- Use warm water to activate the yeast, about 105-115 degrees.
- Sugar- Substitute with another sweetener like honey or maple syrup if needed.
- Yeast- Check the use-by date on your yeast. You want to make sure your bread rises properly.
- Salt - Use fine kosher salt.
- Olive oil - Any neutral oil will work.
- All-purpose flour- I like unbleached flour for this recipe.
- Egg- I keep large eggs in my fridge, so that’s what I used.
- Milk- You’ll need regular or plant-based milk or even water to thin your egg for the wash.
How to Make
- Mix the water, yeast, and sugar to activate the yeast.
- After a few minutes, add the salt, olive oil, and part of the flour.
- Check your dough for stiffness and add more flour if needed.
- Let your mixer knead the dough a bit, or turn it out onto a floured surface and do it by hand.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place.
- Prep the bowl you’ll use for shaping, place it on a cookie sheet, then divide the dough and use your rolling pin to make the strips for your bread basket.
- Once the weaving is done, trim and fold over any edges or pieces that are out of place.
- Brush on the egg wash and set aside to rise.
- Bake until golden brown, then cool a few minutes before carefully separating the bread basket from the foil.
- Cool completely before filling your beautiful basket!
Tips for Making a Woven Bread Basket
- Thinner slices of dough work better here, especially for the top of the basket. If the dough or any individual pieces are too heavy, the bread basket may collapse onto itself. You don’t need to worry about bread scoring here, but you want some texture to your strips for a real basket look.
- I used an upside-down stainless steel bowl wrapped in tin foil to form the woven basket shape. Smaller bowls are recommended because they’re easier to work with. Larger bread baskets tend to lose their shape rather quickly while baking. My bowl was medium-ish, holding about 2 quarts.
- Spray cooking oil on the layer of tin foil to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Make your weave tight, keeping the pieces close together to make the basket as sturdy as possible. Do leave some holes, though, so the horizontal strips aren’t touching too much. This will make sure it cooks evenly and allow your guests to catch little glimpses of whatever goodies are inside the basket.
- When you apply your egg wash, use a pastry brush and try to get every crevice of the bread basket to create an even tone of browning.
Woven Bread Basket
- Medium-size stainless steel bowl (mine held about 2 quarts. It was on the smaller side of medium) and stand mixer
- 1 ¼ cup water lukewarm
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ¼-3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg egg wash, not for dough
- 1 tablespoon milk egg wash, not for dough
- I like to mix my dough in a stand mixer, but you can always knead by hand as well.
- Start by activating the yeast, you do this by combining the yeast and water. Mix gently and let them sit for about 3-5 minutes. It won't take long.
- Add in remaining ingredients, but only use 2 cups of the flour.
- Mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Check for flour. You want it to be a SLIGHTLY stiff dough. Not really stiff, but just slightly. If you need to add another ½ cup into the dough, mix another minute or maybe 2. Check again. Once is right, turn the mixer on medium and mix for about 5-6 minutes.
- Cover and allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
- Wrap the backside of your bowl with tinfoil and spray with pan spray.
- Cut off ⅓ of your dough. Divide this into 5 pieces. Roll them into 10inch long snakes. Then roll each snake out with a rolling pin to flatten slightly. You will want everything to be fairly thin as it will triple in size by the time it is risen and baked. Lay each of these across the top of the bowl. These will be the supports you weave around. I hope the video is better at explaining than I am.
- Take the remaining dough, and divide into 6 pieces. Roll these into snakes as well. Then just as with the others, flatten slightly by rolling with the rolling pin.
- Starting at the top of the bowl, start weaving with the flattened pieces you just rolled out. Pinch the pieces together when they end, or simply start and stop under a supporting piece of dough. When you are finished, clip all the ends. Then cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
- Towards the end of the baking time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix the egg and 1 tablespoon of milk in a small bowl for egg wash.
- Brush generously over the basket, this will give it the golden brown color. Make sure and brush in the nooks and crannies too.
- Place in oven. Bake for 20-35 minutes. You want it to be a deep golden brown. If your basket was thicker than mine, you will need to bake a little longer. You want it to be able to hold its shape.
- Once it is baked, remove it from the oven. Allow it the cool for about 5 minutes, then GENTLY remove from the bowl peel out the tinfoil.
- Allow it to cool completely before filling. You can fill with rolls, fruits, flowers, or eggs like I did. The possibilities are endless. Just make sure whatever you put it in is light.