3 1/4 Cups of all purpose flour (I have used 00-type flour with very good results as well)
2 1/4 Teaspoons Active dry yeast – You can also used rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Water at room temperature
1/4 Cup Vegetable oil
2 Large Eggs + 1 egg yolk at room temperature
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch salt for
1 Teaspoon Poppy Seeds or Sesame Seeds (You can also use Za’atar which is delicious)
You can make the dough by hand, but I used a stand mixer most of the times…so much faster.
Mix all the dry ingredients (except the sugar) in the bowl of your stand mixer.
In a separate bowl, stir in the eggs, water, oil and sugar and using a whisk, mix well until the sugar has dissolved.
Pour the mixture into the flour and mix at low speed for a minute and increase the speed to medium and mix for about 10 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of your bowl. Take the dough out of your bowl and shape it into a ball. Place it back in the bowl and cover with cling film for 1 1/2 hours.
Stack 2 rimmed bakings sheets lined with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough on your working counter and divide into 2 pieces, one twice as large a the other. (I use a scale)
Divide each piece into thirds and cover loosely with a tea towel.
Working with a piece of dough at a time, stretch and roll into a 40 cm (16 inches) rope.
Arrange 3 thicker ropes side by side, perpendicular to counter edge and pinch the far ends together. Braid ropes into a 25 cm loaf.
Transfer the loaf on your baking tray, brush the loaf with the egg mixture and place the smaller braided loaf on top. Cover loosely with a teal towel and let the dough rest and rise for another 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat your over at 180 Celsius – Brush the bread with a final coat of egg mixture and sprinkle some poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. I usually turn the bread halfway through the baking. If you are using a thermometer, it should read about 88 to 90 Celsius.
Let the bread rest for an hour before serving… I know… it is a long time !