Sooooo…. Am I the only person who thinks of Seinfeld every time I see a loaf of braided bread like this? Just me? Oh…
I know it’s not a marble rye, but there is something so comforting about freshly baked bread, and something so elegant and complicated looking about this braided style bread, which, turns out- is super easy to do.
You really just make a very simple bread dough, divide it into 3 pieces, and starting in the middle, braid it together.
You could braid things into it too. Fresh garlic (that would be good with spaghetti!) cinnamon sugar and raisins, you name it. Or, you can just serve this crusty loaf of plain french style bread with butter.
2 cups warm water (for a tender, brown crust use 1/2 cup warm water and 1 1/2 cups milk)
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon Sugar
5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1. The key to activating the yeast is finding the right water temp. Don’t let this intimidate you: just think of bathwater. If it feels warm on the wrist, but not hot, it’s ready to pour into a bowl.
2. Add the yeast.
3. Measure the sugar into the bowl.
4. Whisk until the sugar and yeast are dissolved.
5. Measure 2 cups of the flour into the bowl.
6. Whisk the mixture well, then let it “proof” or sit for 10 minutes. If tiny bubbles appear and the batter looks slightly expanded, you’re on the right track.
7. Stir in salt, then add the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time.
8. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured flat surface.
9. To knead, fold the dough in half and push it down and away with the heel of your hand, rotate the dough and repeat until it is smooth and elastic. (Kneading can take up to 10 minutes) (You can also put it on the dough hook in your Kitchenaid mixer for 10 minutes on low)
10. Place the ball in a bowl greased with vegetable oil or butter and turn to coat.
11. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a draft-free area for 1 to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. (I use plastic wrap)
12. Punch the dough down.
13. Divide the row into 3 equal pieces and roll each one out into a snake, about a foot long. Braid them together, starting in the center and working your way out to the edge of each end. Tuck the ends underneath.
14. Preheat oven 400 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.