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Swiss Braid Bread


1 package active dry yeast or l cake compressed yeast
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk (scalded)
5 to 5 and 1/2 cups sifted enriched flour
2 eggs
1 beaten egg


Soften active dry yeast in 1/4 cup warm water or compressed yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Add butter, sugar, and salt to hot milk; stir till butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in two cups flour; beat well. Add softened yeast and 2 eggs; mix well. Reserving some of the flour for kneading, add enough of remaining to make a soft dough. Turn out on floured surface. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Knead 5 to 8 minutes till smooth and satiny. Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in warm place till double, about 1 and 1/2 hours. Punch down.

Turn out on lightly floured surface and divide in 8 equal parts; form in balls. Cover; let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Shape each ball into a 13 inch strip, 1 inch in diameter. For each braided loaf, place four strips side by side on a well greased baking sheet.

Braid without stretching dough beginning in middle and working toward either end. (For a four strand braid, throw the strips alternately under and over). Seal ends of strands and tuck under braid. Cover; let rise in warm place till very light and puffy, about 1 hour. Brush generously with beaten egg. Bake in moderate oven 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, till deep golden brown.
Makes 2 loaves.