An easy-to-remember pattern plus a beautiful finished result make the 4-strand braid one of my favorites. Here's how to make a 4-strand challah braid—with no complicated strand numbers, just a friendly diagram illustrating the simple sequence.
This post is part of my Complete Guide to Baking Challah.
Over time, the 4-strand braid has become my favorite way to shape a challah. I love the meaningfulness of the 6-strand, but I haven't quite internalized it. The 4-strand braid is super simple and makes an especially beautiful loaf, plus one that is of even thickness. It bakes up and slices wonderfully and is the perfect next step after a standard 3-strand braided challah. I'd describe the pattern as having a focal center cord framed by symmetrical cords twisting in opposite directions.
Setting up for a 4-strand challah
As with any challah, you’ll begin by dividing up your dough into equal sections, four in this case. (The four together will make up one loaf.) It’ll get a lot bigger after rising and baking, so don’t worry if your finished braid seems small. Roll each lump into a long strand that’s a bit tapered at the edges.
Lay the four ropes side by side, then bring the tapered ends together and press firmly to join them. You should have four strands facing you, joined at the top.
Braiding a 4-strand challah: over-under-over
The 4-strand braid is worked from right to left and has, as promised, an extra easy sequence: just work the rightmost strand over the strand next to it, underneath the next strand, and over the strand on the left. You'll repeat this over-under-over pattern until you get to the end, always working with whichever strand is farthest to your right. Nothing more to it!
Here's what your braid should look like after a few passes:
And here is how the 4-strand challah looks all baked up: