Place the water in a very large bowl. (Make sure the water is no warmer than wrist temperature!) Sprinkle in the yeast, and let stand 5 minutes until foamy.
Add the sugar, 2 of the eggs, salt, oil, and optional raisins, and beat with a wire whisk for several minutes.
Begin adding the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition. When you reach about the seventh cup of flour, start slowing the additions, adding ¼ cup at a time, mixing and kneading in the flour with your hand. Stop adding flour when the dough is quite firm and no longer feels sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead vigorously - as though you mean it - for 5 to 10 minutes, or until you’ve had enough. (The more kneading the better, but on the other hand, bread dough is very adaptable and will accommodate you.)
Oil the bowl and the top surface of the dough, and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel, and place in a draft-free place to rise until doubled in bulk (1 ½ to 2 hours).
Punch down the dough, return to the floured surface, and divide in half. Knead each half for at least 5 minutes, then divide each into thirds. Roll each third into a long rope about 1 ½ inches in diameter, and form 2 braided loaves (3 strands per braid).
Oil a baking sheet, and place the braids on the sheet at least 4 inches apart. Cover with the towel, return to the draft-free spot, and let rise again, this time for only about 45 minutes. (Alternatively, you can let the braids rise in the refrigerator for up to three days before baking. Be sure they are sealed airtight in a large loose-fitting plastic bag. You can then put them directly from the refrigerator into a preheated oven.)
Preheat oven to 350°. Beat the remaining egg, and brush it onto the risen loaves. Sprinkle generously with poppy and/or sesame seeds. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the breads give off a hollow sound when thumped resolutely on the bottom. Remove from the sheet immediately, and cool on a rack.
View line-by-line Nutrition Insights™: Discover which ingredients contribute the calories/sodium/etc.
|Serving Size: 1 Serving (89g)|
|Recipe Makes: 16 Servings|
|Calories from Fat: 124 (70%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 13.8g||18 %|
|Saturated Fat 1.9g||9 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 3.8g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 7.4g|
|Cholesterol 0.9mg||0 %|
|Sodium 27mg||1 %|
|Potassium 120.9mg||3 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 13.9g||4 %|
|Dietary Fiber 0.5g||2 %|
|Sugars, other 13.5g|
|Protein 1.2g||2 %|
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Disclaimer: Nutrition facts are derived from linked ingredients (shown at left in colored bullets) and may or may not be complete. Always consult a licensed nutritionist or doctor if you have a nutrition-related medical condition.
Calories per serving: 178
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