French Bread Braids

Eggs and cream give this brioche-like bread a rich flavor and soft crumb. It is delicious with butter and jam or sliced thick and made into French toast.

Serves: 16Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 2 hours 35 minutesDifficulty: Medium


Serves: 16

Ingredients

  • 2 packages active dry yeast (2¼ tsp.)
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup light cream
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
  • 1 Tbsp. cornmeal

Directions

  • Grease a large bowl with vegetable shortening; set aside. In another large bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar; stir until creamy. In large saucepan, combine milk, cream, salt, oil, and remaining sugar and heat over low heat until warm; set aside. In a small bowl, beat eggs, reserving 1 tablespoon.
  • Add beaten eggs and warmed milk mixture to yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in 1 cup flour and beat for 5 minutes. Then gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto floured surface and knead in enough remaining flour until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Grease two cookie sheets with solid shortening and sprinkle with cornmeal. Punch down dough and divide in half. Divide each half into thirds and roll each third into a 20" rope. Braid three ropes together, pinching edges to seal. Place on prepared cookie sheets and brush with reserved beaten egg. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Place a 9" pan with 2 cups water on bottom rack. Bake loaves one at a time for 25 minutes or until bread is golden brown and firm. Cool completely on wire rack.