This easy recipe produces a rich bread braided into golden perfection. Looks impressive but tastes even better!
Yields 1 large loaf
- 3 to 3 1/4 cups (15 to 16 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 large eggs + 1 egg, separated (reserve the white for the egg wash)
- 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon water, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
- In a medium bowl whisk together 3 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, use a spatula to mix together the 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk, melted butter, and 1/2 cup of the water until combined. Add the flour mixture.
- Using the dough hook, knead at low speed until a smooth and elastic ball of dough forms, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough is too wet and sticky.
- Place the ball of dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl, turning the dough over to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Gently press down on the dough to deflate it then cover with plastic and let rise until doubled again, about 40 to 60 minutes.
- Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk the egg white with the remaining 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Once the dough has risen twice, transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, one roughly half the size of the other. The small piece should weigh about 9 ounces, the larger should weigh about 18 ounces.
- Divide the large piece of dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 16-inch long rope about 1 inch in diameter. Line up the ropes side by side, pinching together at one end to steady them for braiding. Braid the rope pieces and pinch the other end together to seal the braid. Place the braid on a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet.
- Repeat the exact steps with the remaining smaller dough. Divide it into three portions, rolling the dough into 16-inch long strips about 1/2-inch in diameter. Set the smaller braided dough beside the larger one.
- 9. Brush some of the egg wash onto the large braid then carefully place the smaller braid on top. Loosely drape the loaf with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and increased in size by a third, 30 to 45 minutes.
- Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Brush the risen loaf with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with poppy/sesame seeds, if using. Bake the loaf for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and registers an internal temperature of 190°F (90°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Set the baking sheet on top of a wire rack, and let the loaf cool completely before slicing.
Well, I really hope my process pictures help lessen the intimidation factor. I can guarantee you’ll have a fun time braiding and eating this thing!