Prep 4 hrs
Cook 30 mins
This is special and always wows those you serve it to -- it has an appearance like a crown -- each person pulls off her own serving of bread and the texture and taste are fantastic. It may seem a bit time consuming to prepare but each step is simple and, I promise you, worth the effort. This comes from a Good Housekeeping magazine Christmas recipe from some 20 years back!
- ABOUT 4 HOURS BEFORE SERVING OR UP TO 2 DAYS AHEAD: In large bowl, combine sugar, salt, yeast and 2 cups flour.
- In 1 quart saucepan over low heat, heat water and 3 T.
- margarine or butter until very warm (120 130 butter does not need to melt completely) With mixer at low speed, gradually beat liquid into dry ingredients just until blended.
- Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
- Beat in ¾ cup flour to make a thick batter continue beating 2 minutes, scraping bowl often.
- With wooden spoon, stir in 2 ½ cups flour to make a soft dough.
- Turn dough onto well floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, working in more flour while kneading (about ¾ cup).
- Shape dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning so that the top is oiled.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until doubled.
- (Dough is doubled when 2 fingers, pressed lightly into dough, leave a dent) Punch down dough and turn onto lightly floured surface.
- Cover dough with bowl and let rest for 15 minutes for easier handling.
- Meanwhile, in small skillet over medium heat, melt 4 T.
- Set aside.
- Grease 10 inch tube pan.
- Cut dough in half; cut each half into 16 pieces.
- Shape each piece into a ball by tucking the ends under.
- Place half of balls in tube pan brush with half of melted butter, sprinkle with half of herbs (optional-- my family does not like the thyme version).
- Repeat with remaining dough, butter and herbs.
- Cover with towel and let rise until doubled about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake 30 35 minutes until loaf sounds hollow when tapped lightly with the finger.
- Cool loaf in pan on wire rack ten minutes.
- Remove loaf from pan and serve warm.
- Or, cool loaf and wrap in foil heat for 10-15 minutes before serving.