Braided Bread

Basic dough:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 packages or 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups warm water

White rope:
1 1/4 cups plain all-purpose flour

Wheat rope:
2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

Rye rope:
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 tablespoon dry cocoa
1 1/4 cups rye flour
Oven: 350º

Combine the 2 1/4 cups flour with sugar, salt and yeast.  Add the butter and 2 1/4 cups water and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed of electric mixer.  Divide dough into 3 bowls.  To make the white rope, stir 1 1/4-cup plain flour into one bowl.  Add the ingredients for wheat rope to second bowl.   Add to the third bowl the ingredients for rye rope.  Knead each dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes each.  Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.  Punch down and on floured board; divide each dough in half.  Roll each piece into a 15-inch rope.  On a greased baking sheet, braid together one rope of each dough, pinching ends to seal.  Repeat for second loaf.  Cover loaves and allow to rise a second time, about 1 hour.  Bake approximately 40 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Cool on racks.

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