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
- 2 packages active dry yeast (2 1⁄4 tsp.)
- 3⁄4 cup warm water
- 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
- 1 cup milk
- 1⁄2 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
- 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-inch 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-inch 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.