My mother made a braided bread each and every Easter and we counted the days, hours and minutes until we sliced into the fragrant braids and feasted on this yummy treat. Not just for a holiday breakfast, you'll find it turns any Sunday brunch into something really special. I make it a day in advance and do the final glaze right before serving it.
Makes 8-10 servings
Begin by proofing the yeast. Gently mix warm water and yeast with coconut sugar in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Cover with a towel and allow to stand, undisturbed for 5-10 minutes. It will bubble and foam. (If your yeast doesn't foam within 10 minutes, water was too hot or too cold or your yeast is old. Start over with fresh yeast.)
Add applesauce and sea salt to the yeast and mix well. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and begin to mix with a wooden spoon. Continue to add flour by 1/2 cups until a soft, sticky dough forms. Lightly flour a dry work surface and flour your hands. Turn the dough onto the floured surface and begin to knead, pulling flour in as needed to create a soft pliabl dough. Knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and silky to the touch.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl that is twice the size of the dough ball. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and lay a towel over top. Place in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size. Punch the dough gently to deflate it.Divide the dough into 3 pieces and lightly flour a clean work surface. Roll the 3 pieces of dough into thick ropey logs, about 20 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick, one a bit longer than the others. Lay the 3 ropes side by side with the longest rope in the middle and begin to braid the pieces as you would hair, one rope over the other until you have a thick braid. Bend the edges of the braid so you can attach them, making a ring.
Carefully place the braided ring on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let it rise for 10 minutes.
Make the glaze by whisking together, coconut sugar, applesauce and oil. Using a brush, swipe the glaze over the braided ring. Sprinkle lightly with coconut sugar and bake 40-45 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and lightly bruch more glaze over the bread,
Cool for 10 minutes before serving.