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