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4-5 cups bread flour, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup margarine, softened
1/16 teaspoon saffron*, optional
1 cup very warm water (120 to 130 degrees)
4 eggs at room temperature, divided
1 teaspoon cold water
teaspoon poppy seed, optional

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix 1 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Add margarine.

Add saffron to warm water; let stand 3 minutes. Pour into the flour mixture, stir to blend, then beat with mixer 2 minutes on medium speed. Add 3 whole eggs and 1 egg white (reserve yolk) and cup flour. Beat at high speed 1 minute. Stir in additional flour to make soft dough.

Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning dough to coat top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured board. Divide dough in half and set aside 1 piece. Divide the dough into 2 pieces; one about 1/3 and the other about 2/3 of dough. Divide the larger piece into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch rope. Braid the ropes together; pinch ends to seal. Divide smaller piece into 3 equal pieces, rolling each piece into a 10-inch rope. Braid ropes together; place smaller braid on top of large braid. Seal braids together at ends. Place on greased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough to form second loaf.

Beat together remaining egg yolk and 1 teaspoon cold water; brush loaves with egg mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seed. Cover with plastic sprayed with nonstick spray. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled, about 1 hour. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from baking sheets onto wire racks and cool.

Makes 2 loaves.

*Saffron, which provides color and flavor, can be purchased powdered or in strands.

Nutritional Information
With 16 slices per loaf, one slice provides approximately: 107 calories, 3 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 3 g fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 41 mcg folate, 1 mg iron, 140 mg sodium.