Heat the water to 105°F-115°F. Transfer to a bowl. Add one package of active dry yeast (8 grams) and 1 teaspoon of sugar from the overall amount. Stir together. Set aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate.
Whisk the dry ingredients:
In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 3½ cups of flour and the sugar. Form a well in the middle and set aside.
Whisk the liquid ingredients:
In a separate bowl whisk together the room temperature buttermilk, egg, oil, extracts and the lemon zest.
Combine with a wooden spoon:
Add the liquid egg mixture to the well of the dry ingredients.
With a wooden spoon, combine to form a shaggy dough.
Add the yeast mixture, and continue to combine for 1 minute.
Knead with stand mixture:
Place the bowl in the mixer and fit with the dough hook. Knead on low speed for about 5-8 minutes. The ball of dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl. If not, add flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it is no longer sticking to the bottom of the bowl. The dough should be soft and smooth and spring back when poked.
Let the dough rest:
Remove dough from bowl and shape into a ball.
Place the ball of dough in a clean bowl.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
Let rise for about 1½ - 2 hours or until double in size.
Shape the dough:
Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C).
Turn out dough on a lightly floured board.
Roll out dough until you get a 16x12-inch rectangle.
With a pastry cutter cut the dough into 1-inch strips.
Cut the dough across the middle. You should have 32 strips of dough.
Pinch the top ends of 3 strips of dough together. Then start braiding the dough. Once you reach the end, pinch again and tuck underneath.
Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Continue in this fashion until all the dough is braided.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 20 minutes.
Bake the bread:
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and transfer immediately to a wire rack to cool off.
Heat the water to the proper temperature in order to activate the yeast.
Remove the egg and buttermilk at least one hour before you plan on starting the recipe.
There are many factors that affect the moisture absorption of flour. If the dough feels sticky, simply add a little bit of flour. If it feels dry, moisten it with water.
Since every oven is different, keep an eye on them during the last few minutes of baking.
The total waiting time for the dough to rise is 2 hours and 20 minutes
Can I freeze them? Yes. In fact, it is recommended as these are best the day they are made. Once they have cooled down completely, place them on a sheet pan in the freezer for about one hour or until they are firm to the touch. Then transfer to a large plastic container or a bag. This extra step helps them maintain their shape. Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is just a rough estimate and variations can occur depending on the specific ingredients used.