Makes: 1 huge braided loaf
Time: At least 3 hours, largely unattended
This yields a golden crumb and shiny crust. Adapted with edits from Mark Bittman’s “How to Bake Everything”. (Sold in Fully Booked).
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour, plus more if needed (got mine at SM Aura Supermarket)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter
about 1 cup milk, lukewarm
softened butter for greasing (if not using parchment paper on baking sheet)
melted butter for brushing
- Combine flour yeast salt sugar and cold butter in a bowl and use your hand blender to mix it until the butter is evenly distributed but not completely blended in. Add the eggs and blend a few more times.
- Slowly add the milk until it forms a somewhat solid mass.
- Remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a lightly floured surface.
- Form a smooth round dough.
- To test if its ready hold the bottom of the dough ball by hand and press with you finger on top with the other. If it slowly springs back, its ready.
- Put it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and leave it in the kitchen counter for about an hour and half until it doubles in size.
- Put the dough on a flat surface, flatten into a rectangle about an inch thick and cut into three.
- Pre-heat the oven to about 350F.
- Roll each piece in to a rope about 15 inches long and transfer to a greased baking sheet or one with parchment paper. (I forgot to do that here so it was still on the silicone mat. It’s harder to transfer if it’s already braided).
- Lay the strips next to one another and press their ends together and braid as you would hair.
- When you reach the end, use your fingers to tightly press them together.
- Brush with melted butter and an egg wash to get that shiny crust.
- Put the baking sheet in the middle rack and bake for about 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature on a quick read thermometer reaches 210F.
- Cool on a rack.
- When ready to serve, cut with a serrated knife, the bread will be rich and delicate.
What’s your favorite type of bread?