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Egg Harbor Bread

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This loaf has surpassed the The First Loaf as my favorite bread I've made so far. The crust was perfect, not too crunchy yet not too soft. The inside was soft and delicious. The bread worked well for sandwiches, toast, and just plain eating. The bread was soft and fluffy. Trust me you'll love this loaf of bread. It really was not complicated to make it just takes some time.

Egg Harbor Bread
Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads

3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
5 to 6 cups bread flour, approximately
2 packages dry yeast
1 egg, beaten, mixed with 1 tablespoon milk

2 medium loaf pans, greased

In a bowl dissolve sugar and salt in the hot water. Stir in the butter and set aside.
Measure 3 cups flour into the mixer bowl and add the yeast. Blend. Slowly pour in the liquid, using the mixer flat beater. Beat for 2 minutes.

Add flour 1/2 cup at a time. Attach the dough hook and add the flour to form a soft mass.

Add flour if necessary to make a soft, elastic ball that will form around the revolving dough hook and, at the same time, clean the sides of the bowl. Knead for 10 minutes.

The dough has 5 risings before it is made into loaves-the first time for 30 minutes, and 15 minutes each for the remaining 4.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until dough doubles in volume, about 30 minutes.
Turn back the plastic cover and punch down the dough with extended fingers. Turn the dough over. Replace the plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes.
At 15 minute intervals, punch down the dough 3 more times.

Turn the dough from the bowl and allow it to rest for 4 or 5 minutes before dividing into 2 pieces.
Shape each piece into a ball. Flatten with the palm into an oblong roughly the length of the loaf pan. Fold lengthwise, pinch the seam together, tuck in the ends, and drop into the prepared pans. Press down with the hand to force the dough into the corners.

Cover the pans with greased wax or parchment paper and put aside until almost triple in volume. The dough should rise 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches above the rim of the tin in about 50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees about 15 minutes before baking.

Brush the loaves with the egg-milk wash, and place the pans on the middle or lower shelf of the oven. Bake until the loaves are a golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes, and test done when rapped on the bottom crust with a forefinger. For a deeper overall brown, remove from the pans and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on a metal rack before slicing.

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