1 c Water; Warm, 110-115 Deg. F.
1 pk Active Dry Yeast;
1 tb Active Dry Yeast; Bulk
3+1/2 c Unbleached Flour; *
1 ts Sugar
1+1/2 ts Salt
3/4 c Butter; Room Temperature
4 Eggs; Lg, Room Temperature
6 oz Cheddar; Extra Sharp, Diced
1 Egg; Lg
1 tb Milk
2 tb Celery Seeds
* You can use up to 4 1/2 cups of flour in this recipe depending on the weather.
Pour the warm water into a warm bowl and add the yeast. Stir to dissolve then let stand until light and puffed, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on the lowest speed for 1 minute. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes longer. Add the butter to the yeast mixture and beat for another 1 minute. On the lowest speed on the mixer, beat in 1 egg and 1/2 cup of flour until well blended, repeating until the 4 eggs are used up and enough flour has been added to make a soft sticky dough. Continue to beat with the mixer or by hand, until the dough is glossy and elastic and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Stir in the cheddar cheese by hand. Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts until doubled in bulk, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch down and place in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours or better, overnight. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Divide in half and cover and refrigerate the second ball of dough. Knead the remaining ball of dough on a lightly floured surface until soft and pliable. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and roll each piece into a rope 12 to 16-inches long. Braid the ropes, starting in the middle and working toward each end. Pinch the ends together so seal them. Grease a large baking sheet and place the finished braid on one side of the sheet.
Repeat with the refrigerated dough. In a small bowl beat the egg and milk together. Brush the braids with the egg mixture and let the braids rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until dough in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Do not cover. Midway through the rising time, brush with the egg mixture again. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. When fully risen, brush with the egg mixture for a final time and sprinkle evenly with the celery seeds. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven until a wooden skewer or pick inserted in the braid comes out dry. Remove from the oven and from the baking sheet. Cool to room temperature, on wire racks, before slicing.