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Herb Sour Cream Bread
1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
1/4 c lukewarm water
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
1 egg
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 c minced onion
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 to 4 1/2 c all-purpose unbleached flour, divided
Melted butter, for brushing on loaf (optional)

Dissolve yeast in warm water in small bowl. Let stand 10 minutes, or until foamy. Heat sour cream in a saucepan or microwave oven to 110 to 120 degrees. Pour warm sour cream into medium bowl. Add egg, oil, honey, baking soda, salt, onion and thyme; stir until thoroughly mixed. Add yeast mixture; stir to mix. Add 4 cups of the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently 1 minute. Let dough rest 10 minutes; this resting period helps the dough to firm up. Knead 4 minutes, adding small amounts of remaining flour as needed to keep dough manageable. The dough will be elastic but slightly sticky. Rinse and dry bowl, then oil surface of dough and place dough in bowl. Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place about 1 hour, or until doubled. Punch down dough. Knead briefly to expel large air bubbles. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 18-inch rope. Braid the ropes to form a loaf; tuck the ends underneath. Place loaf on lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise about 30 minutes, or until doubled. About 15 minutes before end of rising time, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaf 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from baking sheet and let cool on wire rack 15 minutes, then brush top and sides of loaf with melted butter, if desired.
Recipe featured in Bread Daily on 01/01/02.