Make the sponge: Whisk
All-Purpose Flour (1 cup)
Instant Dry Yeast (1/2 Tbsp)
and stir in the
Water (1 cup)
until the sponge is smooth.
Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let rise about 45 minutes or until puffy and bubbly.
Directly into the bowl, add the
Salt (1 Tbsp)
Honey (1/4 cup)
Safflower Oil (1/2 cup)
Stir with a spatula or spoon until well mixed, then add the remaining
All-Purpose Flour (3 cups)
. Stir with a spoon until dough forms a sticky mass.
Add a bit more flour, then turn dough onto lightly floured work surface and knead for just a few minutes, until dough becomes smooth.
Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with dish towel or plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours or longer depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Punch down and divide into three or four parts, depending on what shape you want to make.
Roll into long ropes and braid into desired shape.
Brush with egg wash, a combination of
Water (1 tsp)
Let the loaf rise on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Place another baking sheet underneath it to help insulate the bottom and keep it from burning.
Brush one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with
Poppy Seeds (to taste)
if you like. Bake for 45-50 minutes, checking after 40 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.