Your guests will be impressed with this loaf. Chances are they will ask you the name of the bakery where you bought it!! Please do not be daunted by the long(ish) list of instructions -- they assist you through the process of making the bread. Adapted from a Pilsbury cooking book. You can use smaller strips of dough and make two loaves. You can serve this either sliced or let your guests break off pieces.
- Warm the milk and margarine until about 120F.
- Blend the liquid, 1 1/2 Cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast and eggs until moistened.
- Beat for 2 minutes. (This is easier if you have an electric mixer.).
- By hand, stir in flour until you have a stiff dough. (Don't worry if you haven't used all the flour, you will add more during the kneading process.).
- Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Grease a bowl, place the dough in it and turn the greased side up.
- Cover and let rise until doubled. this will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Please be patient.
- Grease a cookie sheet.
- Punch down the dough and divide it into four equal parts. (Yes, four.).
- Shape each part into a strip about 20 inches long. You can roll the dough in your hands like you used to do with plasticine.
- Place the 4 strips side by side on the prepared cookie sheet. Yes, one end will extend over the ends of the sheet. Pinch the 4 strips together at one end.
- Now, braid the strips by weaving the far right strip over and under the next strips to the far left. Weave the next far right strip. Continue until you braid all the pieces.
- Then, pinch the ends together to seal.
- Cover and let the loaf rise until doubled in size. This will take up to an hour.
- You can make the loaf look really special by brushing it, before baking, with a beaten egg or egg yolk. Please take care to not let the egg drip on the cookie sheet.
- If you have sesame or poppy seeds you can sprinkle them liberally on the loaf.
- Place the loaf in an oven heated to 375°F.
- Bake about 35 minutes or until golden brown. It will sound hollow when lightly tapped.
- Slide off the cookie sheet to a rack and let it cool.
That is 5+ Made for Fall 09 PAC. Very easy bread to make, and following the braiding instructions easy, with nice texture and flavor. Remember to knead your bread at least for 8 minutes, this helps give it just the right amount of gluten. Will be making this bread again and again. Thank You for a wonderful keeper.