This is, hands down, my family’s favorite bread. It is so soft and flavorful, a wonderful enriched bread but not too rich. It makes incredible sandwiches and even more incredible French toast. Even just toasted with butter is a treat. And it is easy! The dough comes together quickly, it’s great to work with, and bakes up beautifully. It also just looks really impressive. Try a batch and wow your friends or family ... or just eat it all yourself, slice by slice.
makes 2 medium loaves
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
3 eggs, room temp
2 egg yolks (reserve one egg white for the wash!)
3.5 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
3.5 Tbsp melted butter (or more oil)
6 - 6.5 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp salt
Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, oil, and butter to combine. Stir into the yeast mixture. Add 6 cups of flour and the salt.
Knead on medium low for 8-10 minutes or until dough is elastic and smooth. If necessary, add more flour, but be careful not to add too much. The dough shouldn’t be sticky or gluey but it should still be pretty tacky.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft free, not-cold area until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Gently punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half, and then divide each of those halves into three equal pieces. Take one piece of dough and press it down into a rectangular shape. Roll it tightly up into a log and set aside to relax. Repeat this with each of the pieces of dough.
Take one of the logs and roll it into a strand of dough about 12-14 inches long. Do this by gently rolling the dough under your hands back and forth and outwards. If the dough seems to resist stretching, just set it aside and come back to it in a minute or two.
When each of the strands is rolled out, take three to shape the first loaf Pinch the top ends together and simply braid left over center, right over center until you reach the ends of the strands. Try not to braid the strands too tight or too slack - both will affect the rise and bake of the loaf. Pinch the bottom ends together. Repeat with the other three strands for the second loaf.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and oil lightly. Transfer the loaves to the baking sheets, tucking the pinched ends of the loaf just slightly under the loaf. Cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and proofed, 45 min - 1 hr. To judge when the loaf is ready, poke the dough with your finger. If it resists the poke and springs back immediately, it is not ready. It should make an indent but slowly spring back.
About 30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 350.
When the loaves are nearly ready to bake, combine an egg white with 1 tbsp water and whisk well. Brush this all over the top and sides of the loaf.
Bake for 35 minutes or until deeply golden. Let cool completely before slicing.