|Active dry yeast||1⁄2 Ounce (2 Envelopes)|
|Warm water||1 Cup (16 tbs) (Very Warm)|
|Sifted all purpose flour||6 Cup (96 tbs)|
|Milk||1 1⁄2 Cup (24 tbs), heated to lukewarm|
|Egg||1 , slightly beaten|
|Poppy seeds||1 Tablespoon|
1. Make "sponge": Sprinkle yeast into very warm water in a large bowl. ("Very warm water" should feel comfortably warm when dropped on wrist.) Stir until yeast dissolves.
2. Stir in 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 cups of the flour; beat until smooth. Cover bowl with foil or plastic wrap. Let rise in a very warm place, away from drafts, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until large bubbles appear on the surface.
3. Stir in milk, remaining sugar, salt and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth; slowly add remaining flour. Turn onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, using only as much flour as needed to keep dough from sticking.
4. Place in a greased large bowl; turn to coat all over with shortening; cover with clean towel. Let rise in warm place, away from drafts, 1 hour, or until double in bulk.
5. Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead 1 minute; divide in half. Roll one half into a 30x24x24-inch triangle; roll up from long side to opposite point. Transfer to greased cooky sheet; shape into crescent. Repeat with other half. Cover; let rise again in a warm place, away from drafts, 45 minutes, or until double in bulk.
6. Brush tops with slightly beaten egg; sprinkle with poppy seeds.
7. Bake in a very hot oven (450°) 10 minutes; lower heat to 350° and bake 30 minutes longer or until bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from cooky sheets to wire racks; cool completely.