1 pkg. active dry yeast
¼ c. warm water, about 110 degrees Fahrenheit
2 c. milk, scalded and cooled to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit (“baby bathwater temperature”)
2 TBSP white sugar
1 TBSP butter or margarine (I use Smart Balance spread)
2 tsp. salt
About 6 cups all-purpose flour (note: on humid days, you may need a little more flour)
2 eggs, beaten, or egg substitute
1-2 tsp. poppy seeds (optional)
Combine the active dry yeast and the warm water; stir until dissolved. Let the mixture set until the yeast is activated, about 5 minutes. In a separate, larger bowl, combine the sugar, salt, and butter or margarine, and the cooled scalded milk.
Add the yeast mixture to the cooled milk mixture. Stir in two cups of the flour; then, incorporate the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough is moderately stiff.
Knead the dough on a floured surface about 10 minutes, or until elastic and smooth. Oil the larger bowl you used previously; place the dough in the bowl, turning the dough once so that all sides are lightly coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place (e.g., over a pilot light) until the dough volume has doubled, about 45-60 minutes.
Grease two bread pans. Gently punch down the dough and divide it into two balls. Let the dough rise for about 10 minutes; then, cut each ball of dough into about 10-12 asymmetrical pieces. In a small bowl, beat the eggs (or pour the egg substitute into the bowl); then, add the dough pieces and coat them with the egg. Place the dough pieces into the bread pans. If you wish, you may sprinkle 1 tsp. of poppy seeds onto each loaf.
Let the dough rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the bottoms of the loaves sound hollow when you thump them lightly. Cool the loaves for about 10 minutes in the pans; then, invert them on a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely (or, if your household is like mine, to cool enough for you to sample one without burning your tongue).