Friday, May 6

Fast and Easy Sesame Braids

  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (3 of the 1/4 ounce packages)
  • 2-1/4 cups warm tap water (If you've got your hot water set so that it won't burn skin, then it's never too hot to dissolve your yeast in.)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • sesame seeds
This recipe is typical of most of my favorite ones: Impressive looking, but actually quite simple. Not to mention tasty.

I mix this bread with my in my countertop mixer, but if you don't have a mixer that'll knead bread for you, it's still easy to make by hand. In the mixer bowl (or any large bowl) dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar and oil and the whole wheat flour; mix well. Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes, or until it bubbles up.

In a small bowl, mix the eggs and the tablespoon water together. Remove two tablespoons of the mixture and save to use later. Add the remaining egg mixture, along with the salt, to the batter; mix until smooth.

Add 4 cups of the remaining flour--one cup at a time--to the batter, and mix in. If you are using your mixer, you may need to change to your dough hook as the batter thickens. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Knead the dough until it is feels like it has substance. (What in the world does smooth and elastic really mean, anyway?) This will take 6-8 minutes if you are kneading by hand on a floured surface, and less than that if you are using your dough hook.

Remove the dough ball from the bowl and grease the bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it over once so that the top is greased. Cover bowl loosely with a piece of plastic wrap, and set your dough in a warm place to rise until doubled, which should be in only 20 minutes or so.

Punch the dough down and divide it in half. (I often choose not to divide the dough--I just make one huge braid.) Divide each half (or the whole thing, if you are doing the one big braid) into thirds. Shape each piece into a rope about 15 inches long. (I make mine about 24 inches long for the one big braid.)

Grease a baking sheet and put your three ropes of dough on it. Pinch the three ends together and then braid the ropes. Pinch the other ends together and tuck both ends under. Brush with the reserved egg and water mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Repeat with second braid.

Let rise until doubled, only about 15-20 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (30 minutes or so for large braid). Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire rack.

I started this at 3:30PM yesterday, and it had been out of the oven for a while when we ate supper at 5:30PM. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture until after we'd already started eating.

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