This dough is made in two stages: a sponge and then the final dough. The sponge is merely a very wet dough that the yeast can percolate in. After the yeast grows, the rest of the flour is added for a dough of conventional consistency.
This makes a gorgeous lemon colored bread and the egg wash makes the braided bread brown beautifully on top.
For the sponge
1 7 gram packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup all bread flour
- Combine yeast and warm water in a medium bowl. Stir in honey and flour to form a wet dough of batter consistency.
- Cover the dough with plastic film and allow it to rise in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes or until bubbles begin to form.
For the dough
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon dough conditioner (optional)
- Whisk the eggs, egg yolk, oil and salt together.
- Add the flour and dough conditioner to the sponge mixture. Add the egg mixture. Mix well until the eggs are mixed in.
- Knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Place dough in an oiled bowl and turn to cover top with oil. Cover with plastic film and let it rise at room temp for one more hour or until doubled.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly oiled or floured surface. Divide dough into four balls. Divide each ball into three balls and roll into ropes about six inches long.
- Braid the ropes, pinching the ends together. Place in greased loaf pans (four 3 x 5 1/2-inch pans). Cover and let the bread rise in the pans until doubled in size and soft and puffy.
- Whisk an egg, an egg yolk, and one tablespoon warm water together to make an egg wash and brush it over the loaves gently. Immediately bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until done. The internal temperature of the bread should reach 190 degrees.
Baker’s notes: The braid does not need to be perfect, it will all even out as it rises and bakes. Read on for more information about braiding bread.