This giant braided loaf looks like a country fair winner and tastes just like the days before some fool ruined white bread by whipping air into it.
1 cup water (plus additional water if necessary to make a smooth, pliable ball after the first few minutes of kneading)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups all purpose, unbleached white flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
3 gently rounded tablespoons Lora Brody's Dough Relaxer
1 tablespoon yeast
For the glaze:
1 egg mixed with 2 tablespoons water
Bread Machine method: Place all the ingredients in the machine, program for DOUGH or MANUAL cycle, and press START. Check the dough after the first few minutes of kneading, adding additional water if necessary to make a smooth, pliable ball. At the end of the final cycle remove the dough and place it on a very lightly floured or lightly oiled work surface.
Food Processor and Stand Mixer method: Measure 1 cup warm water into a 2 cup measure. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and allow to dissolve, stirring to mix if necessary. Add the remaining dry ingredients to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the plastic blade, or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix or process to combine the dry ingredients, then with the mixer on low speed, or the processor on, add the dissolved yeast and water.In the processor, process until a ball forms, adding more water or flour if necessary, then process for 45 seconds, rest for 1 minute, then process for another 60 seconds; in the mixer, knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and supple and no longer sticks to the bottom of the bowl, adding more water or flour if necessary. Place the dough either in a large freezer-strength zip lock plastic bag or an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until almost double in bulk.
To complete: Punch down the risen dough (gently deflate it with your fist) and place it on a very lightly floured or lightly oiled work surface. Spray or grease a heavy baking sheet. Roll the dough into a 18" x 5" rectangle. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough lengthwise into 3 long strips, leaving the pieces connected at one end. Braid the strips without stretching them and secure the end by pinching it together and tucking it under the loaf. Place the braid on the prepared pan and brush with the egg glaze. Allow to rise, uncovered, in a warm place until not quite double in bulk. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with the rack in the center position. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake another 20 minutes, or until the top is deep golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
This page created September 1998
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