1/2 cup lukewarm water
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp yeast
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water for the egg wash
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, water and honey. Allow it to foam so that you know its working. Mix in the vegetable oil, eggs, and salt. Turn the mixer on low and add in the flour, cup by cup, making sure the dough does not get too dry. Knead with the stand mixer for 7 minutes or until the dough springs back when pushed in with your thumb.
Allow the dough to rise for 2 hours until doubled. (I placed mine in the fridge at this point and baked it later that night, just in case you run out of time.) Punch the dough down and transfer to a lightly floured work surface.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape each into a 6 inch log. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Roll each of these logs into a 15 inch rope. Cover and let rest for 10 more minutes.
Roll the ropes some more until they are 20 inches long, they will shrink back a little bit to 18 inches. Lay them parallel to each other and pinch the ends on the left together. This is where you need to look at the pictures provided by King Arthur if you are having trouble.
Take the rope nearest you and move it away from you over the two adjoining ropes. Then move the rope back under the rope next to it. Repeat this, but start with the rope farthest form you. Bring it towards you, across the two adjoining ropes. Then move it back under the rope nearest it, away from you. Continue, alternating sides, until the whole loaf is braided. Pinch the ends together and tuck underneath.
Gently pick up the loaf and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with greased plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow it to rise until it is quite puffy, ~ 90 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 about 15 minutes before the bread is done rising.
Whisk together the egg and water, brush this carefully over the risen loaf of bread. Place the baking sheet on top of another baking sheet (to keep the bottom from browning too much). Bake for 20 minute. Rotate the pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for another 15 – 25 minutes until golden brown. There is a lot of variation here, so keep a close eye on the bread.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour