county fair bread

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This is a recipe adapted from James Beard’s book, Beard on Bread. I love his description…

“When well made, this slightly sweet braided loaf looks exactly as if it would win first prize at the fair…. This is a nice bread to give as a holiday present.” ~James Beard

5 to 5 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 package active dry yeast

1 and 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs


1 egg white lightly beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

sesame seeds

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt and dry yeast. Heat milk and melted butter in a saucepan until the milk is warm (not hot.) Add the eggs and warm milk mixture to the flour mixture. Mix very well for 5 minutes using a wire whisk. Then add the remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon until dough ingredients are evenly combined and stiff. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Form into a ball and place in a large buttered bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place. Allow dough to rise until doubled in bulk (1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.)

Punch dough down well. Divide into 3 equal portions and roll each portion into a thin cylinder, about 2 feet long. Braid them together and tuck ends under. Place braid on a large baking sheet that’s been sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover loaf with buttered plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour.) Remove plastic wrap, and brush with the egg white mixture. Sprinkle generously with the sesame seeds. Bake in 375 F. degree oven to 35 to 40 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped and the bread is a nice golden brown color.



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