- Servings: varies (yields 1 small loaf)
- Time: about 4 hours
- Difficulty: moderate
- 1 package (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast;
- ½ C warm water (105°-115°F);
- ¼ C sugar, divided;
- 2 ½ C flour, divided;
- ¼ C unsalted butter, at room temperature;
- 1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk;
- 1 tsp salt;
- 1 egg beaten with 1T of water, for egg wash.
- Combine the yeast, warm water and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in a large bowl. Allow yeast to activate and become foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining sugar, 2 ¼ cups of flour, butter, egg and salt until a sticky dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 6-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. While kneading, add the remaining ¼ cup of flour a few spoonfuls at a time, as needed. You may only need half of the remaining flour, so be cautious not to add it too quickly. The dough can also be prepared in a standing mixer, using a paddle attachment to initially combine the ingredients and a dough hook to knead.
- Lightly brush a large bowl with melted butter. Form the dough into a ball, place into the greased bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Punch down the dough and transfer to a clean surface. Separate the dough into 3 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and roll into a 1 inch-wide by 10 inch-long rope. Roll the dough using your palms, working from the center, outwards.
- Line up the 3 strands horizontally. Create a braid by weaving the piece closest to you over the center piece. Then, weave the piece furthest from you over the center piece. Repeat the process until you reach the end of the strands. Pinch the ends of the dough together and tuck under slightly. Place braided dough on prepared pan, cover with a dry towel, and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 50-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and position rack in the bottom third of the oven. Prepare egg wash and brush dough evenly over the top and sides. Bake the bread about 30-35 minutes or until it’s well-browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer bread to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.