Pulla-Finish Coffee Bread

1 pkg active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
1 cup (or less) sugar
1 tsp cardamon
4 eggs, beaten
8-9 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup melted butter

1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup chopped or sliced almonds (optional)
1/2 cup crushed lump sugar (optional)

Dissolve yeast in the warm water.  Stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cardamon, eggs and
enough flour to make a batter (about 2 cups).  Beat until dough is smooth and elastic.
Add about 3 cups of the flour and beat well.  The dough should be quite smooth and
glossy in appearance.  Add the melted butter and stir in well.  Beat again until the
dough looks glossy.  Stir in the remaining flour until a stiff dough forms.  Turn out
onto a lightly floured board and cover with an inverted mixing bowl.  Let dough rest 15
minutes.  Knead until smooth and satiny.  Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, turn
the dough to grease the top.  Cover lightly and let rise in warm place (about 85
degrees) until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).  Punch down and let rise again until
almost doubled (about 30 minutes).  Turn out again onto a slightly floured board,
divide into 3 parts, then divide each of these parts into 3.  Shape each into a strip
about 16 inches longer by rolling the dough between the palms and the board.  Braid the
3 strips together into a straight loaf, pinch the ends together and tuck under.  Repeat
for the second and third loaves.  Lift the braids onto lightly greased baking
sheets.  Let rise about 20 minutes (the braids should be puffy but not doubled in
size).  Glaze the loaves by brushing with the beaten egg, and if you wish, sprinkle
with the crushed sugar and almonds.  Bake at 350* for 20-30 minutes placing a pan
under the bread pan to protect the bottom of the bread.  Bread should be a light,
golden brown when done.

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