First, some very good news. I have moved to a new blog hosting company — which means, happily for me, that I will never have to deal with the old (awful) blog hosting company ever again. Happily for you, this should mean that you don’t see any more terrible error messages about CPU quotas, server unavailability, or my blog being disabled (no, I was not expecting that, and yes, I screamed and cried).
So, with that taken care of, I give you this awesome braided bread recipe. I’m excited to post this because it seems that nearly every time I post a bread recipe, it’s extremely popular. And I know exactly why that is — it’s because freshly baked, homemade bread is quite possibly the most wonderful creation on earth. I can resist most of the things I create in my kitchen — I managed to go several days before polishing off the flourless chocolate cake I just posted, and I’ve navigated countless batches of cookies and cakes without completely gorging myself.
But fresh baked bread? Somehow it never even lasts even overnight.
So after a rough week, this was my ultimate comfort food. Soft and slightly dense, it’s a serious breakfasty bread that could use a smear of jam and not much else.
2 tbsp sugar
1 packet active dry yeast (approx 2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup warm milk (microwaved for 20-30 seconds)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm milk in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes until milky. Add flour, butter and salt to yeast mixture; mix until evenly incorporated.
Knead the dough until smooth (about 5-10 minutes). Cover dough with plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Punch the dough down and divide it into four equal portions. Roll each quarter of the dough into a long rope, approximately 12″ long. Place all four ropes on top of a greased baking sheet. Take the top end of each rope and press together to join them. Braid the dough by taking each outside rope and moving it to the center (I don’t know how to better describe braiding, but if you don’t know how, google it!). Tuck the ends below the braided strands if any are uneven.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the dough for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Brush the beaten egg onto the dough to create an even, glossy layer. Put the dough back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm, if possible.