It looks impressive and tastes amazing but is very easy to make!
Makes 3 loaves
- 5-6 cups flour
- 2 tbsp yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 eggs
With a mixer – Add 5 cups of flour and all other ingredients to the bowl at once, liquids first, and turn your mixer on low (using the bread hook) until flour is mostly incorporated. Turn up to 3 and knead for five more minutes, adding up to 1 cup more flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn out onto floured surface and knead once or twice to pull it into a nice ball, as shown below (dough will be somewhat stiff). Cover with a towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
By hand – Combine 2 cups of flour with rest of ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend well. Gradually mix in 3 to 3 1/2 more cups of flour with wooden spoon until dough pulls from sides of bowl and gets too stiff to use the spoon. Turn out onto
Turn out onto floured surface and divide into two. Knead each portion by hand for about 8 minutes until you get a nice smooth ball, adding a little flour as needed to keep it from sticking to your work surface. Cover with a towel and let rest 20 minutes.
Either method continues: Divide dough into two portions if you haven’t done so already. Sprinkle more flour on your work surface and use a rolling pin to roll one piece of dough into a rectangle (maybe 6 inches wide and 15 inches long – but don’t worry about being exact). Slice the rectangle into three long pieces. Pull sides of each piece up and pinch together to form a rope.. Braid pieces together, starting in the center and working down, then going back to the center and working back up. Wind braid into a circle and place into a greased baking tray (you can also put the platted dough into an 8-9 inch cake tin if you like). Where loose ends meet, tuck them together to form a complete circle.
Repeat with other half of dough. Cover each of your dough circles, then let to rest in a cool place for between 2 and 10 hours.
To bake: Preheat oven to 180 C. Remove dough from fridge and place directly in middle rack in oven (if your oven cooks hot on the bottom you might want to move the rack up a bit). Cook for about 30 minutes. The top should be brown and crusty to the touch while the grooves in the braids will remain white. Do not undercook – if you take this out when the top is just barely golden brown it won’t be cooked in the middle. Remove braided bread from tray right away and move to a cooling rack or towel. Grab some butter and rub it over the top of the bread to make it shiny, pretty, and soft on top.
You can also divide the dough into 3 instead of 2 for slightly smaller loaves so you can give more away.