This recipe makes a beautiful, tasty loaf of bread (or two!). Great presentation and guaranteed to be enjoyed by all. Although it does take some time to make because of the rise time, it's really not very difficult to make. Try it for dinner with a great Italian meal.
Place oven rack below center of oven. Warm oven briefly.
Scald 1 cup of milk.
1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 cup lukewarm milk from above (scalded then cooled)
¼ cup softened margarine or butter
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
4-4 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup margarine/butter softened
3 tablespoons parsley flakes (I usually use just under 3 Tbsp)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, margarine, sugar, eggs and salt. Stir in a cup of flour. Stir in remaining flour. Continue stirring scraping dough from side of the bowl, until soft sticky dough forms. Cover, let rise in a warm place until double, about one hour. (Dough is ready if indention remains when touched.) Stir down dough by beating about 25 strokes. Turn dough onto well floured surface; roll or pat in rectangle 18x12 inches. Spread Parmesan-garlic filling evenly over dough. Cut dough into 3 strips 18x4 inches. (I often make 2 smaller loaves because it makes one really HUGE loaf if not made into two and I have a hard time putting it on one cookie sheet.) Roll each strip into rope, pinch edges and ends to seal. Place ropes diagonally and close on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Braid ropes gently and loosely. Do not stretch. Pinch ends to fasten. Tuck under securely. Cover, let rise until 1 ½ times original size about 30 minutes. Mix one egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water, brush over braid. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional). Place oven rack below the center of the oven if it is not already there. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 25-30 minutes until braid is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. If braid is browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.