Makes 2 loaves
|2||packages active dry yeast|
|1-1/2||cups warm water (110° to 115°F)|
|7||to 7-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided|
|1/4||cup butter or margarine, softened|
- Sprinkle yeast and sugar over 1-1/2 cups warm water in small bowl; stir to dissolve. Let stand until bubbly, about 5 minutes.
- Separate 1 egg, reserving yolk; cover yolk and refrigerate. Beat yeast mixture, 2 cups flour, butter and salt in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed 2 minutes. Beat in egg white, 3 whole eggs and 1-1/4 cups flour at low speed. Increase mixer speed to medium; beat 2 minutes. Stir in enough additional flour (about 2-1/2 cups) to make a soft dough. Turn dough out onto well-floured surface. Knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour to prevent sticking, if necessary. Shape dough into ball; place in large greased bowl. Turn once to grease surface. Cover with clean kitchen towel. Let rise in warm place (80° to 85°F) about 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Punch down dough. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead briefly to remove large air bubbles; cover and let rest 15 minutes. Grease large baking sheet. Divide dough into 3 pieces. Cut one piece into thirds. Roll each third into 16-inch-long rope. Place ropes side by side and braid; pinch both ends to seal and place on prepared baking sheet for bottom part of loaf. Repeat with another dough piece for another loaf, placing braids at least 5 inches apart on baking sheet.
- For top parts of loaves, cut remaining piece of dough in half; cut each half into thirds. Roll each third into 17-inch-long rope. Place ropes side by side and braid; pinch both ends to seal. Carefully place small braid on a braid on baking sheet, stretching top braid if necessary. Tuck ends of top braid under bottom braid. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Beat 1 tablespoon water into reserved egg yolk. Brush top and sides of each loaf with egg mixture. Bake 35 minutes or until bread is browned and loaves sound hollow when tapped with finger. Remove immediately from baking sheet and cool completely on wire racks.
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