4-Strand Braided Bread

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Serving: 16, 1-inch slices

Recipe from King Arthur Baking Company. Visit their website for more delicious recipes.

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1. Wash hands with soap and water.

2. Prepare starter by mixing 1 cup flour, 1 cup water and yeast together in a large bowl. Let the mixture sit for 45 minutes.

3. Add 3 1/2 cups flour, salt, 1/3 cup sugar, vegetable oil and 2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk to the starter and mix and knead together until smooth supple dough is formed.

4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it over once to coat lightly with oil. Wash hands after handling raw dough. Cover and let rise for 1 ½ hours or until it has doubled in size.

5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over once or twice. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each into a strand until they’re about 18 inches long.

6. To braid, lay the strands side by side and pinch together at one end. Think of the left strand as #1, next as #2, then #3 and the far right as #4. When braiding, reference will be to their original numbers.

7. Take the left-hand strand (#1) and move it to the right over strands #2 and #3, then tuck it back under strand #3. Take the right-hand strand (#4) and move it to the left over strands #3 and #1, then tuck it back under strand #1. Repeat this process until finished.

8. Make wash by mixing together 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Brush loaf with mixture, reserving some for a second wash. Wash hands after handling raw eggs and dough.

9. Cover loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until almost double in size. Near the end of the rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

10. Brush loaf with remaining egg wash and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the challah is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing.

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