Braided Bread

contributed by Stacie L.

Ingredients
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
TOPPING:
1 egg
1 teaspoon water
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Directions
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a saucepan, heat water and oil to 120 degrees F-130 degrees F. Add to dry ingredients along with eggs. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Set a third of the dough aside. Divide remaining dough into three pieces. Shape each into a 13-in. rope. Place ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Divide reserved dough into three equal pieces; shape each into a 14-in. rope. Braid ropes. Center 14-in. braid on top of the shorter braid. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

4. Beat egg and water; brush over dough. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cover with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

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