(makes 1 loaf.)
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup diced Fontina, Gruyere or Jarlsberg cheese (optional)
Sprinkle the yeast into warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let stand until puffy. Add sugar, salt, and one cup of flour; beat well. Add three eggs, one at a time.
Beat until smooth. Beat in the butter and gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on a floured board. Knead until smooth and satiny.
Place in a greased bowl. Butter the top of dough lightly. Cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Mix in the cheese if used and turn out on a floured board. Knead lightly. Divide into three pieces and shape into long ropes; braid the strands and tuck ends under.
Place on a greased baking sheet and cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown, and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped.
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