4 (1 pound) loaves
1 ½ cups warm water (90°)
2 packages yeast
½ cup sugar
1½ Tablespoons salt
½ cup honey
1½ cups unsalted butter, melted
7½ cups flour
For the Egg wash:
1 Tablespoon water
1. In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter.
2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a wooden spoon.
3. ** The dough will be loose. It will firm up when chilled; don’t try to work with it before chilling.
4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses, approximately 2 hours.
5. ** The dough can be used as soon as it is thoroughly chilled.
6. After the 2 hour rise, keep the dough covered and refrigerate overnight.
7. You can freeze the dough in 1 pound portions for up to 4 weeks.
Thaw frozen dough for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise times.
8. On baking day, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
9. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 pound piece.
10. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball.
11. Divide the ball into thirds and form each into a long rope.
12. Transfer the ropes to the parchment paper lined cookie sheet to braid.
13. Braid the ropes.
14. Braiding the ropes from the center to one end and then from the center to the other end produces a more uniform thickness than when braided from end to end.
15. Cover braids with plastic wrap and allow the bread to rest and rise for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
16. Preheat oven to 350° during the rest and rise time stated in the line above.
17. Brush the loaf with the egg wash.
18. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.
19. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.
20. Allow to cool before slicing.
21 . Dust with powdered sugar before slicing.