This is one of those bread recipes where it looks like you REALLY knew what you were doing and look at the amazing baker you are! but the hardest part of this recipe is portioning out the dough and then not ripping it.
You can do this. Promise.
Stuff you need first:
- ~ 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1Tb sugar
- 1 package yeast [2 1/4 tsp if you’re getting from the jar]
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 TB oil – I use good olive oil.
- 2 large/jumbo eggs
Stuff you need second:
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp water
- kosher salt, poppy seeds, flax seeds, gold flakes, whatever kind of “topping” you like
What you’re going to do:
- Grab your go-to mixing bowl and dumb in the yeast, sugar, 1 1/2 cups of flour and the salt. Add the two eggs, oil and run the water from your sink faucet until it’s heated to around 120°. Dump that in with everything else.
- Mix all that together for three or four minutes, adding more flour until you end up with a soft dough. I use my hand mixer but if you have a stand mixer, you’re not only lucky and I’m jealous but you don’t have to stand there for three minutes holding a buzzing hand mixer. Yay you.
- Flour your counter and dump out the dough. When I do this, the dough is so soft it’s not far from where I started. I like adding the additional flour by hand as I knead the dough. If you think this is stupid, add enough flour before this step so the dough forms a soft ball THEN dump it. Knead your dough for eight minutes. Your arms are going to be SO mad at you. You’ll know you’re done when the dough has pulled all the flour from your hands and counter but the dough isn’t sticking to anything. And the ball will feel dense and heavy.
- Rinse out your mixing bowl, drizzle in some olive oil and swirl your dough ball around so the whole thing has a thin coating of oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 1.5 hours. You’re looking for a doubling in volume. Check in on it after about ten minutes. If you don’t see any change, there’s a good chance your yeast either kicked the bucket or you killed it. Either way, you have to start over…with new yeast.
- Once the time’s up, punch down the dough and flop it out on your counter. I have a habit of using a bit too much oil in the bowl so I don’t ever flour the counter after the kneading part. If you want to, go right ahead. This is the tricky part. Get ready. Shape the ball of dough into a haphazard tube/cylinder/snake. Cut 1/3 of the dough off and set that part aside. Cut the rest into three pieces. Take those three pieces and shape them into dough ropes/snakes – each just over a foot long. I always use my baking sheet as a guide since it has to fit on the sheet so I can bake it. Duh. I line my baking sheet with parchment paper but I guess you could grease the pan…but I’ve never done that before. Don’t blame me if it sucks. Overlap the ends the top and pinch them together so they’ll hold and then braid the ropes until you’re out of dough. Pinch those ends too.
- Take that 1/3 you set aside and divide THAT into three ropes. Be careful with this part since, if you’re not gentle, you’re going to end up tearing the ropes since they’ll be thinner. Braid them together just like you did with the other dough ropes. Put the small braid on top of the big braid and do your best tuck the ends of the top braid under the ends of the bottom braid. I’ve been known to use a bit of water to “glue” the ends into place. There’s no shame in that. Cover your braided masterpiece with plastic wrap and let it rise for 30 minutes.
- Beat the third egg and the water together. Paint your bread with the egg wash. If you want the area to become brown and varnished looking, make sure that area has egg wash on it. Now’s the time to sprinkle any “topping” on that you’re fond of. I always use kosher salt but the recipe originally called for poppy seeds – which I never have. This time, I used flax seeds. Go ahead and turn on your oven to 375 so it can get to heating while you sprinkle to your heart’s content.
- Bake your bread for 25-30 minutes or until it’s browned. There are two different ways of doing this and I’ve done both and I’ve seen NO difference so do what you want. #1 Bake the bread for 15 minutes. Tent aluminum foil over it. Bake for another 15 minutes. #2 Bake the bread for 30 minutes. Don’t ask me about the foil. All I did it the first time I made this and then forgot about it and haven’t ever gone back to using it.
- Eat the bread. My suggestion is with butter and sugar but plain works just as well. I made the bread last night and this what’s left over as of 9am today.
-  The original recipe says to put the water and oil on the stove and heat them till they’re 130° and then slowly stir it in and once it’s all cool THEN you add the eggs. Not what I do. ↩