Measure flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture to flour misture and incorporate fully with your bare hands (take off your rings first- you’ll be glad you did!) Adjust batter with more flour or water as needed- batter should have a consistency just softer than PlayDoh- It should be soft and smooth, but not sticky. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top, then cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until double in bulk, about 1 1/2-2 hours. Punch down dough. Place on a floured board or countertop and knead in cheeses until fully incorporated.
Divide dough into six parts and let rest one minute before shaping. Roll the sections into ropes. Braid, pinching ends together well and turning under. Place braids on a lightly greased cookie sheet and cover with damp cloth. Let rise 1 hour.
Beat egg slightly with milk and brush glaze on bread. Bake at 350 for 1 hour if you made 1 giant loaf, 50 minutes if you made 2 loaves. Bread freezes well.
I use butter to grease the bowl- if you grease your hands and rub them around the bowl, you can use the same bowl for mixing as you do for letting the bread rise. I have a rising bucket which I use- it’s a plastic bucket with a tight lid- Tupperware would probably work as well, so long as it has a tight seal. When using a rising bucket it is not necessary to cover the dough with a damp cloth.
By “damp cloth” I mean this- fully wet the cloth and wring out as much water as possible. It should not add moisture to the dough, just keep it from drying out.
To get the perfect temperature water you can use 1/2 boiling water and 1/2 cold. Otherwise, test it on your wrist- just warmer than body temperature is right.
After applying the egg wash you can sprinkle the bread with an herb such as dill or seeds such as sesame or poppy. Dried onion or powdered Ranch dressing add nice flavors too.
The resting before shaping is essential- it allows the gluten to rest and makes the dough less elastic and easier to shape. If you don’t let it rest you’ll end up fighting with it as it tries to spring back into a ball.
Servings: 1 large, or 2 medium loaves
Time to Prepare: 4 hours or so
Submitted By: Betsy
Original Source: Some Enchanted Eating