Natte (or la natte) is French for "braid." Natte is also a delicious, light, and easy-to-make woven bread that goes great with soups and salads. Why it's so easy, it practically bakes itself! Err.. ok, that's an exaggeration but at any rate, try it out!
To do so, you'll need:
- 1 package yeast
- ¾ cup warm water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup butter
- 4 cups flour
- 3 cups Swiss cheese*
- small amount of vegetable oil
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water
Before you begin, make sure you have the following set up:
- All of your ingredients out and measured (this will save cleanup later. Trust me.)
- One large, dry mixing bowl.
- Another large mixing bowl, lightly greased.
- Plastic wrap.
- A lightly floured surface. (you may prefer to use wax paper or, in a pinch, any clean dry surface will do.)
- A lightly greased baking pan, the larger the better.
Dissolve yeast into warm water in a large mixing bowl.
Add sugar, salt eggs, butter, and 2 cups flour, and stir.
Beat until smooth.
Begin kneading the dough with your fingers, adding flour to the mix until the dough is easy to handle.
Once you can hold the entire mass in your hands, transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (this should take you ~20 minutes).
Put the dough into the lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand for 1 hour.
Uncover the bowl and mix in the grated cheese using your fingers. Make sure to push the cheese into the dough, so it doesn't crumble out on its own. Also, the more cheese you use, the harder it will be to get it all inside the dough. More than 3 cups of cheese will take patience, but if you ask me--it's worth it!
Divide the mix into 3 sections and mold them into equal-sized ropes.
Gently braid the ropes together, making sure to pinch the ends together.
Place the braid on a large, lightly grease pan.
Brush the braid with vegetable oil.
Let the braid rise--uncovered--for 30 minutes and preheat oven to 375.
Brush the loaf with the egg wash, then bake it for 25-30 minutes.
Let the bread cool off, then attack it with a knife!**
*The real recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of cheese. I have always increased this and had excellent results. The Swiss will be so mild in the bread that even with 3 cups, you get the cheesiness without a harsh taste. Experiment!
**The bread will not press charges if you attack it. I promise. No, really, it's okay.