1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/4 C. warm water (110 to 115°F.)
1 T. plus a pinch of sugar
1/4 C. vegetable oil
2 t. salt
About 4 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
Proof the yeast by placing in a small bowl with ½ cup of the warm water with a pinch of sugar. Stir gently, then set aside for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the remaining warm water, sugar, oil, salt and the yeast mixture. Add the eggs and blend well. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, blending after each addition, until the dough is thick enough to work by hand, 2 to 3 cups.
Spoon the dough out on a floured board and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, adding enough of the remaining flour to make a smooth and elastic dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and oil the top of the dough. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place.
Punch down, divide dough into 3 equal parts and roll on lightly floured board into 3 strips of even length. Braid together and place on baking sheet. Cover with towel and let rise again until doubled in bulk. Brush with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with poppy seeds and/or kosher salt to taste.
Bake about 50 minutes in 375°F. oven, or until golden.
Makes 1 loaf