This is another one of our most frequently made breads, French Rolls for Sandwiches being the other. It is great sliced with butter or served alongside pasta the night you make it, and leftovers make good french toast or regular toast.
It is adapted and simplified from a King Arthur recipe called Scali Bread, but I have changed it so much I’m not sure it qualifies as Scali bread anymore.
As always, start with the lesser amount of water and add more if needed. And use the dough cycle on your bread machine if you have one.
For the dry milk powder, I order this from King Arthur, but some is available at grocery stores. It is worth placing an order from them though. You can get a whole pound of red star instant yeast for under $7, which will easily fit in a one quart mason jar and live happily in the freezer. I also like their sparkling sugar, cinnamon, and parchment sheets, which lay flat and can be reused two or three times.
You will need:
-3 cups bread flour
-1 cup to 1 1/3 cup of water
-2 T olive oil
-2 T. Dry milk powder
-1 1/4 t. salt
-1 t. sugar
-2 1/4 t. yeast (Red star instant)
-(an egg and sesame seeds for topping the dough)
- Add all ingredients to a bowl or bread machine bucket, and knead until very smooth. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
- Divide risen dough into three equal pieces and roll gently into 10 inch logs. Allow them to rest, covered in greased plastic wrap, about 15 minutes or so. This will make them easier to work with.
- Pull them out a bit longer, to about 15 inches long. Then begin your braid. Sometimes it is easier to start in the middle and flip it around. Tuck the ends under.
- Place the loaf on a baking sheet either prepared with parchment or sprayed with cooking spray. Brush the loaf with the beaten egg. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, pressing to help them stick.
- Cover the loaf with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise. (Preheat your oven to 425 at this time) Check after 30 minutes, because if it over-rises the braid pattern will be ruined.
- Bake in 425 degree oven 25-30 minutes. It will look very golden because of the egg wash, which can be deceptive. You may want to check with a thermometer before taking it out. (It should be about 195-200 degrees inside.)
- Cool on a wire rack.