Classic No-Knead Bread
This loaf doesn’t need much more than the sweet-and-toasty crunch of sugar and slivered almonds to showcase its lovely texture and egg-wash shine. A newbie to braided breads? Don’t worry; the dough is deceptively easy to work with. If you’ve ever plaited a friendship bracelet—or hair, let’s be honest—you’re more than qualified to pull off this springtime baking project.
1. Reserve 1 ½ tbsp of beaten egg in a small bowl and refrigerate. Stir flour with granulated sugar, salt and yeast in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine milk, butter and ⅓ cup warm water in a measuring cup. Microwave on high until mixture reaches about 110F, about 30 sec. (Liquid must be warm to activate the yeast.)
2. Form a well in the centre of flour mixture. Pour in milk mixture and remaining beaten egg. Stir at low speed until just combined, about
30 sec. Replace paddle with dough hook. Increase speed to medium-high and knead until dough is very smooth and pulls cleanly away from sides and bottom of bowl, about
5 min. (If stand mixer moves around while it kneads, you may have to hold the bowl in place.) Remove hook. Cover bowl with a damp kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in an unheated oven until doubled in size, about 1 hr.
3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Set aside. Transfer dough to a lightly floured counter. Punch down dough, then divide into
3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a long, thin rope about 28 in. long. Arrange ropes side by side, then braid together. Form into a wreath, tucking one end under the other. Place on prepared sheet. Cover with kitchen towel and let stand for 1 hr.
4. Position rack in centre of oven, then preheat to 350F. Brush tops and sides of wreath with reserved beaten egg. Sprinkle with almonds and coarse sugar, if desired.
5. Bake until top is golden brown, 30 to 35 min. Serve warm with butter, or cool on a rack. Bread will keep, covered, at room temp up to 3 days.