In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine 1 3/4 cups of warm water, sugar, and yeast, and gently stir. Then let it sit for about 10 minutes until the mixture is foamy. If it doesn't foam your yeast is likely dead and you should start this step over with fresh yeast.
Attach your dough hook attachment to your stand mixer, then turn it on low speed and add in the olive oil. Then add in your eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Mix in honey, then add in 1 cup of flour. Then add in the salt. It's important to wait until after some flour is added into your mixture before adding the salt because salt can kill your yeast.
Continue gradually adding in flour 1/2 cup at a time, until you reach a total of 8 cups (counting the first cup added). Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure all the ingredients are combining well.
Once you've added in 8 cups of flour and the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 5 minutes with the dough hook still attached. (Don't worry if the dough is sticky)
Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray, turn the dough to grease the top as well, and then cover and let it sit in a warm, draft free area, until it's doubled in size. About 1-1 1/2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I like to make this recipe into 3 loaves, but you can do 2 loaves as well. Whatever you decide, make sure the baking sheet is large enough to fit all 3 loaves, or split them between multiple baking sheets.
After the dough has risen, divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Then divide each third into 4 equal pieces. (this will be how you do it for 3 loaves).
Take 4 small equal pieces of dough and roll each one out into a rope like shape about 12-14 inches long. Once you have 4 rolled out pieces of dough, place them next to each other, vertically, in front of you.
Then pinch the ends of dough together so they are connected at the top, braid the 4 strands of dough together, then once you've reached the end, pinch the ends together and fold them under the loaf. For more detailed instructions on how to braid the dough see my instructions above in the article.
Now repeat that process for the other two loaves.
After all 3 loaves are braided, set them on the prepared baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover them with cheesecloth and let them sit in a warm, draft free area for 45 minutes to an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush each loaf with the egg wash, and then sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.
Bake for about 30 - 45 minutes until golden brown and an instant thermometer reads 190 degrees F. Halfway through baking, brush the loaves with the remaining egg wash and turn the baking sheet around so that the loaves bake evenly.
If the loaves are browning too quickly, loosely cover them with foil halfway through baking.
After they are done, remove them the pan and let them cool before serving.