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Basic Bread

Makes 1 large loaf

This bread is incredibly light, airy, very fragrant, and produces a crust that is delicate and soft. It rises so much that you may think it's about to explode!

Find this recipe and more in Chef Paul Prudhomme's Fiery Foods That I Love.

ingredients
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup 2% fat milk
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil spray
how to prepare

Combine the eggs and the milk mixture in the bowl of an electric food mixer equipped with a dough hook.  Stir briefly to combine, then with the mixer set on slow, gradually add 3¼ cups of the flour.  Increase the speed to medium and process for 10 minutes.  The dough should cling to the dough hook and be fairly elastic.  If the dough is soft and sticky, add the remaining ¼ cup flour.  Reduce the speed to medium slow and continue to process for 5 more minutes, or until the dough is smooth, very elastic, and clinging to the dough hook. 

Flour your hands well, then gather the dough into a ball.  Place the dough in a heavy mixing bowl (a thick porcelain bowl is best) that has been lightly sprayed with vegetable spray.  Very lightly spray the top of the dough, then put the dough in a warm, draft-free place.  (We use the top of our range, with the oven set at 300°.  Or, if you have a gas oven with a pilot light, and you're not using the oven for anything else, put the dough in the unlighted oven, for the pilot light alone generates just enough warmth to encourage rising, and with the door closed, the oven is completely draft-free.)  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.  Push the top down very gently-it will collapse easily. 

Spray a 5 x 8-inch bread pan lightly but evenly with vegetable oil spray.  Form the dough into a loaf shape and place it in the prepared pan.  Try to get the top as even as possible, for the shape of the finished bread depends upon how even it is as it rises and bakes.

Preheat the oven to 325°.  Bake until the top is browned and the loaf sounds hollow when lightly struck, about 1 hour.  Remove the bread from the pan and cool to room temperature on a wire rack before slicing.

Copyright© 1995 by Paul Prudhomme

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