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Fancy Bread Champion
Special Braid

Doris Coats, Cherryvale, KS

1 ¼ cups warm water (110-115ºF)
1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 ¼ - 3 ½ cups bread flour

¼ cup margarine, melted
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon parsley, coarsely crushed
½ teaspoon garlic salt
Poppy or sesame seeds

In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add shortening, sugar, salt and 2 cups bread flour. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Add enough remaining bread flour to form a soft dough. Knead 10-12 minutes by hand or with dough hook. Place dough in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover; let rise until double.

Punch dough down. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. In small bowl, combine melted margarine, Parmesan cheese, paprika, parsley and garlic salt. Set aside.

Roll dough into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle and cut into 3 equal lengthwise strips. To each strip, pinch edges together to form a rope. Braid ropes and place, seam side down, on lightly greased baking sheet. Brush topping on braid and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.

Place braid in cold oven. Turn oven on to 375ºF. Bake 35-40 minutes. When topping starts turning light brown, loosely cover braid with foil to prevent over-browning. Remove from baking sheet; cool on wire rack.

From the contestant - "A meal of meatballs and spaghetti can be extra special served with this homemade bread. The fragrant aroma and appetite appeal of this special braid brings everyone to the table ready to eat!"