1 Egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water (for egg wash)
Sesame Seeds (optional)
Combine the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with either the paddle or dough hook. Stir with a spoon and let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium for 1 minute.
Turn the mixer to low and slowly add half the flour and salt. Mix until combined, approximately 2 minutes.
Increase speed to medium and add softened butter one tablespoon at a time. Do not rush this step. This can take several minutes until all the butter is incorporated. The mixture will be very sticky. Add the remaining flour. Continue to mix for another 3 minutes until dough is shiny and smooth and starts to ‘slap’ around the mixer.
Scrape the dough into a large bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day allow the dough to come to room temperature (approx. 1 hour). Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately a minute or two until it is pliable.
Divide the dough into 3 sections and roll into a long rope about 10-12″ long. Pinch all 3 ends together and braid, pinching the bottom as well.
Place the bread into a loaf pan that has either been sprayed with cooking spray, lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper.
Cover the pan with a clean towel, place in a warm place and set aside for 2 – 2 1/2 hours to rise.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Gently brush the egg wash over the dough and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using.
Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cover with a piece of loosely tented foil and bake for another 20 minutes.
The crust should be a rich reddish-golden brown. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool.