7 to 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 pkg. dry yeast
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. water
Poppy seeds (optional)
In large bowl, combine 3 cups flour and yeast.
In saucepan, heat 2 cups water, sugar, butter and salt until just warm, stirring constantly until butter almost melts. Add to dry mixture.
Add 3 eggs. Beat at low for 30 seconds, scraping sides constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high. Stir in enough of the remaining flour by hand to make a soft dough.
Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in warm place about 45 minutes or until doubled.
Punch down and divide into 3 portions. Divide each portion into 3 pieces. Cover and let dough rest 10 minutes. Roll each piece into 16" rope. Using 3 ropes for each loaf, braid and secure ends.
Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise 35 minutes or until almost doubled. Brush with mixture of egg yolk and 1 Tbsp. water. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.
Bake 25-30 minutes at 375.