Here is a bread that is as much a pleasure to look at as it is to eat. Check out that braiding! And the way it practically glows on the table! Slice yourself a piece and cherish the pillow-soft interior, simultaneously rich and slightly sweet.
- 1 cup (240 grams) lukewarm water (85°F/29°C to 90°F/32°C), divided
- 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
- 5⅓ cups (677 grams)Flour, divided
- 2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (9 grams) kosher salt
- ¼ cup (56 grams) vegetable oil
- ¼ cup (85 grams) honey
- 3 large eggs (150 grams), room temperature and divided
- 1 large egg yolk (19 grams), room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together ½ cup (120 grams) lukewarm water and yeast by hand until dissolved. Add 1 cup (127 grams) flour; using the paddle attachment, beat at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
- Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
- Add 4 cups (508 grams) flour, sugar, and salt to yeast mixture.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, honey, 2 eggs (100 grams), egg yolk, and remaining ½ cup (120 grams) lukewarm water. Add oil mixture to flour mixture. Switch to the dough hook attachment, and beat at low speed until a smooth, slightly tacky, elastic dough comes together, 5 to 6 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook; add up to remaining ⅓ cup (42 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if needed. Turn out onto a very lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth round.
- Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Punch down dough, and turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 portions (about 298 grams each). Roll each portion into a 22-inch-long rope. Place ropes in a hashtag pattern (over, under, over, under). Begin with any “under” rope, and moving clockwise, cross it over adjacent rope. Repeat with next rope until you get back to the beginning. Repeat procedure, moving counterclockwise. Repeat procedure, alternating clockwise and counterclockwise, until all dough is used.
- Tuck ends under, and place loaf on prepared pan. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed, 1 to 1½ hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water and remaining 1 egg (50 grams). Generously brush loaf with egg wash.
- Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 35 to 45 minutes, covering with foil 15 minutes through baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and place on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.