Natte (French Cheese Braid)*
- 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons, if you’re using bulk yeast)
- ¾ cup very warm water (105–115 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 3 ½ – 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 ounces Swiss or Gruyere cheese, diced (or cheddar, or Jarlsberg, or anything you like!)
- Vegetable or olive oil
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons water
- In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, butter, and 2 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (Or use stand mixer with dough hook).
- Place dough in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until dough doubles (about 1–2 hours). Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
- Punch down dough; knead in cheese until well distributed. Divide dough in 3 equal parts. Roll each part into a rope, 15 inches long.
- Place ropes on lightly greased cookie sheet and braid them together gently and loosely. Pinch ends to fasten; tuck under securely. Brush lightly with oil. Let rise until double, 40–50 minutes.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water slightly; brush over braid. Place in oven rack below center of oven. Bake until braid sounds hollow when tapped, 25–30 minutes.
Tip: If braid is browning too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
*This recipe for Natte/French Cheese Bread is from Betty Crocker’s International Cookbook, published in 1980 by General Mills, Inc.