1 ½ cups warm water (95 to 110 degrees)
1 Tablespoon or 2 packages (1/2 oz.) active dry yeast
¼ cup butter, softened
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour
In large bowl, mix water and yeast. (Let sit???) Add butter, sugar and salt. Stir. Add 3 cups flour and mix well. Add in enough remaining flour to make a dough that follows the spoon around the bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed until the dough is firm and smooth to the touch. Place dough in medium greased bowl. Turn dough over in bowl so that the top is also lightly greased. Cover with clean cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free place for 1 hour.
Bake bread at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the bread top is golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when the top is tapped. Remove bread from baking sheets and let cool on rack.
Punch down. Turn dough out onto lightly floured board and knead out bubbles for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Set 3 pieces aside. Roll out the remaining 3 pieces of dough between your hands, making 3 strips, 12 inches long. Line strips side-by-side on floured board. Braid strips, starting from the center and working to the end. Pinch ends together. Set braided loaf on greased baking sheet and repeat steps for the remaining 3 pieces of dough. Cover loaves with kitchen towl and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled.