I got a few requests for this recipe, so I figured I'd take some time and post it on here. I first have to give credit to The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. I LOVE this cookbook and have never made something that didn't turn out great the first time! Now that you know the source I will share this yummy recipe with you :).
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk (save the egg white for the glaze)
3-3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
1. FOR THE DOUGH: Whisk the water, melted butter, eggs, and egg yolk together in a large liquid measuring cup. Combine 3 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the water mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
2. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. If after 4 minutes more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide the dough into 2 pieces, one twice as large as the other. Divide each piece into 3 pieces and roll each piece out into a 16-inch-long rope (3 ropes will be much thicker).
5. FOR THE GLAZE AND TO BRAID: Beat the egg white and the water together in a small bowl. Braid two loaves, one large and one small. Transfer the larger braid to the prepared baking sheet, brush with some of the egg white-water mixture, and secure the smaller braid on top. Tuck both ends under the loaf. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size and the dough barely springs back when poked with a knuckle, 45 to 75 minutes.
6. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the loaf with the remaining egg white-water mixture, sprinkle with the seeds (if using), then spray lightly with water. Bake until golden and the center of the loaf registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the loaf halfway through baking. Cool the bread on the baking sheet for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, before serving (we dug right in about 10 minutes after taking it out :P).
This is what the dough looks like after rising. Cut in 2 pieces, one piece twice as large as the other. Then cut each of those pieces into 3 pieces so that you'll have enough ropes to do 2 braids.
This is not my picture, but it gives you a visual on what the braiding process looks like.
This is after it's risen for 45 minutes and it's ready to go in the oven.
Ready to eat :)