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1 envelope active dry yeast
1 tsp. fine salt
5½ c. all-purpose flour
3 First Light white eggs, divided
½ c. sugar
2 tsp. ground fennel seed
1⅓ c. Longmont Dairy milk
¾ tsp. mahlep, or almond extract
5 tbsp. Country Cream butter
3 First Light eggs, dyed red

Pour ⅓ cup hot water (about 110° F) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Gently whisk in yeast, 1 tablespoon of the flour and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Cover with a towel and set aside until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles start to form at edges, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, remaining sugar, and salt. Set aside to cool, about 5 minutes.
With paddle attachment, stir milk mixture into yeast mixture. Add two beaten eggs. Gradually mix in remaining flour, fennel seed, and mahlep. Beat until a soft dough forms. Increase speed and beat until dough pulls away from sides and forms a ball, about 5 minutes (dough will be sticky).

Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth, about 5 minutes. Put into a greased bowl, cover, and place somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.

Punch down dough, place on a floured surface, and divide into three parts, rolling each into a 16” rope. Transfer to a parchment-lined, wide-lipped cookie sheet. Braid ropes together, pinching ends to seal, and tucking them underneath. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Rub the dyed eggs with vegetable oil, then buff with a paper towel. Gently press into dough. Cover and set aside until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Beat remaining egg and brush onto bread. Bake 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool about 30 minutes before slicing.