2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water
Black sesame seeds (optional)
1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the butter, sugar, salt, eggs, and 3 cups flour. In a stand mixer with a dough hook beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, stir in enough remaining flour to form soft dough.
2. In a large bowl spray cooking spray to cover inside of the bowl. Place dough in the bowl turning to cover all in oil. Cover and let rise for an hour until doubled in size.
3. Punch dough down and divide into 4 even pieces. Spray cooking spray onto a cookie sheet. Make each dough piece into a 12 inch rope and place parallel net to one another onto the cookie sheet. Beginning on the right side, braid dough by placing the first rope over the second rope, under the third and over the fourth. Repeat three or four time, beginning each on the right side. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
4. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Beat egg yolk and water, brush over braid. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to wire rack and let cool.
Yield: 1 loaf
Adapted from Taste of Home 2008 Annual Recipes