I have made the recipe a number of times (at least 14). For reasons I cannot fathom, the braids pull apart (or separate) in places on the top during baking. Otherwise, the challah comes out fine, if not fantastic.
I am using the lowest shelf in the oven and a double baking sheet - the lower sheet is heated while the oven warms up to 325 deg. F. In all other respects, I am following the recipe exactly.
Two additional pieces of information.
1) I am placing the dough in the refrigerator overnight after the second rise (and 2 more business letter turns). Time in the refrigerator is approximately 20 hours.
2) Upon closer inspection, it appears that the outer braids have broken in places (i.e., cross-wise), so they are not continuous through the challah. See the attached photos.
Perhaps I am doing something with the dough that decreases its elasticity.
I would appreciate any suggestions or hints. Thank you.