This special Jewish bread is usually served on the Sabbath and holidays. But its rich egg taste, tender texture and elegant braided appearance make it a special bread anytime.
1/2 cup warm water (110°F. to 115°F.)
1 (1/4-oz.) pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water (110°F. to 115°F.)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature*
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups bread flour

1 egg
2 teaspoons poppy seeds or sesame seeds, if desired

1. Combine all yeast ingredients in small bowl; let stand 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup water, applesauce and 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl. Add 3 eggs, egg yolk and salt; beat at medium speed until combined.
3. Add yeast mixture and 1 cup of the flour; beat at low speed until smooth. Slowly beat in enough of the remaining flour to make soft dough. (Resist the urge to add too much flour; dough should be sticky and won’t pull away from sides of bowl cleanly.)
4. Knead dough 5 minutes with mixer or gently by hand on lightly floured surface 10 minutes or until dough is soft and smooth. Gently form into large ball; lightly dust outside with flour. Spray large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl; cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with towel; place in warm place. Let rise until double, about 1 hour.
5. Heat oven to 350°F.; line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half; divide each half into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into rope 18 inches long and 1 inch wide.
6. Place 3 ropes next to each other. Starting in the middle, braid one half; secure ends. Braid the other half; place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, keeping space between braids on baking sheet. Cover with towel; let rise 25 to 30 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
7. Combine 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush over braids; sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom.
TIP *To warm eggs quickly, place whole eggs in bowl of hot water. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes.
2 (24-slice) loaves