2 ½ cups warm water ( 110°F)
3 tbsp. dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
¾ c. oil
¾ cup of honey
1 ½ tbsp. salt
8 c. unbleached all - purpose flour
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
2 tbsp. honey
Preheat oven to 350°F.
When it reaches that temperature, turn off the oven.
While the oven is warming up, in a large bowl, pour in the water , sugar and the yeast. Let the yeast sit until it is getting bubbly and growing.
Add the oil, honey, eggs and salt all at once. Mix together. Slowly begin to add the flour one cup at a time. Mix after each cup. When the bread dough releases itself from the sides of the mixing bowl, the bread dough is ready to take out and place on a floured wood board or marble slab.
Knead the dough. Add more flour as needed to make a stand-up dough, yet sticky enough to make a soft and chewy loaf of bread. Once kneaded formed into a round ball, return it to the mixing bowl, wiped lightly with oil. Cover with a warm, wet towel and place into the heated oven.
When the dough has doubled, take it out of the warm oven and turn the oven back onto 250 degrees.
Cut the bread into three larger balls and three smaller balls. Shape the dough of the larger balls into long strips to braid. Intertwine back and forth until the balls have become a very pretty loaf for baking.
Next, shape the smaller balls into long strips to braid. Once braided, and squeezed at the ends to keep them braided, center on top of the larger loaf.
Mix the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water and 2 tablespoons of honey and brush this all over the loaf. Add poppy seeds on top. As the bread raises in the oven, re-glaze the sides with more of the egg-wash.
Place this on a cookie pan greased with butter and put it into the warm 250°F oven. This is instead of having it rise a 2nd time on the counter. Let it rise slowly in the oven for about 10-15 minutes and then raise the temperature to 375°F and take it out of the oven when you can smell the heavenly aroma of the bread, after about 35-40 minutes. When it sounds a bit hollow on the sides and top, take it out to cool a bit.
Serve warm with cheese and a glass of wine.