"A sweetish, soft and rich bread that makes delicious sandwiches and keeps well."
For the sponge
1 1/3 cups
active dry yeast
For the dough
3 1/2 cups
Pour the water into a large bowl. Dissolve the sugar in the water and then add the yeast. Let stand for about 10 minutes until bubbly.
Mix in 1 cup of the flour and mix to form a slurry. Add the egg, oli and salt and mix to incorporate into the mixture. Gradually add more flour until too hard to stir then add more kneading by hand until you have a very slightly sticky ball of dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place into an oiled bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) for about 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in volume.
Knead the dough a second time (but for much less time) and then shape into loaves. I divide the ball into two, then each half into three and braid them forming two braided loaves.
Place the loaves on a greased cookie sheet or baking stone and cover again, this time for about 45 minutes until doubled again.
About 15 minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. You can brush the loaves with an egg wash and coat with sesame or other seeds if you wish or leave without a glaze for a more rustic look. These loves are always the hit of any meal! Enjoy!