1/4 cup warm water
2 ½ tsp yeast (or one yeast packet)
1 Tbl sugar
1 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbl butter
2 ½ cups flour
1 ¾-2 cups more flour
In a drinking glass or bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast and sugar. Set it aside for about 10 min to rise. In your mixer, combine the hot water, salt, sugar and butter and mix. Once the yeast has risen, add 2 ½ cups flour, 1 egg and the yeast. Mix all together (using your mixing paddle arm.)
Add 1 ¾ cups more flour and mix until a ball forms. If the dough is still too soft, add more flour until the dough feels like squishy play-dough. Take the paddle arm off your mixer and put the hook arm on. Turn mixer on to the number “2” setting (if you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer) and let machine knead the dough for 7 minutes. OR knead the dough by hand for 5-6 minutes on a hard surface.
Spray a large clean bowl with cooking spray. Put the dough in the bowl and cover with a cloth to keep from drying out. Place the bowl in a warm place (like the oven with just the light turned on). Let the dough rise for a couple hours.
Punch the dough down and let it rest for 10 minutes. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Using a knife, divide the dough in half. Starting with the first ball of dough, divide it into three pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14 inches long. Pinch the 3 ropes together at the top, braid the ropes, and pinch the ropes together at the end. Squish the braid together slightly and place the braid onto the prepared cookie sheet, sideways. Repeat with the other ball of dough and place on the same sheet. Cover cookie sheet with a cloth and let rise for about an hour.
Using a fork, whisk together one egg and 1 T. water until well combined. Brush the egg wash over the tops and sides of the braids. Be careful as you brush that you don’t press too hard or you may deflate the loaves. Heat the oven to 350. Bake for 14-18 minutes or just till they start turning golden brown. Let the bread sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Serve with butter and fresh jam.