Table Bread (Pao De Mesa)
Vicki Butts (lazyme)
From The Food of Portugal by Jean Anderson.
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2 pkgactive dry yeast
5 1/2 csifted unbleached all-purpose flour (about)
1 1/2 cscalded milk, cooled to lukewarm (105 to 115f)
2 Tbspunsalted butter, room temperature
How to Make Table Bread (Pao De Mesa)
- First make a sponge: In a large, warm bowl combine the yeast, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and 2 cups of the flour, pressing out all lumps. Add the milk slowly, whisking all the while until smooth. Cover with a dry cloth and set in a warm, draft-free spot until spongy, light, and doubled in bulk -- about 20 minutes.
- As soon as the sponge is properly bubbly, stir down, then beat in the remaining sugar, the eggs, salt, and butter. Now mix in the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, to make a soft but workable dough. Turn out onto a well-floured board and knead hard with well-floured hands for about 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky; shape into a ball, place in a warm, greased bowl, then turn the dough in the bowl so that it is greased all over. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk -- about 1 hour. Punch the dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured board, and knead lightly 8 to 10 times. Now divide the dough in half, knead each half lightly 15 to 20 times, and shape into a ball. Place the dough in two well-buttered 2 1/2-quart charlotte molds or deep 7-inch casseroles. Cover with a cloth, set in a warm, draft-free spot, and allow to rise until doubled in bulk -- about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to moderate (350F.). As soon as the loaves are risen, arrange on the center oven rack so that the pans touch neither the oven walls nor each other. Bake about 40 minutes until nicely browned and hollow-sounding when thumped. Remove the bread from the oven, loosen around the edges, and turn out on wire racks to cool. Do not cut the bread until it has reached room temperature, and when you slice into it, use a very sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion so that you don't destroy the light spongy texture. Serve with butter, if you like, although the bread is really rich enough not to need it.
- To mix the dough in a food processor:
Unless you have a big, powerful machine, mix the dough in two batches lest you stall or burn out the processor motor. Begin by hand-mixing the sponge as the recipe directs, then let it rise until doubled. in bulk. Scoop half the sponge (all of it if you have a heavy-duty machine) into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Now add 1/2 of each of the remaining ingredients (all of them if using a big machine), and buzz nonstop about 60 seconds until the mixture forms a stiff dough that rides up on the central spindle. Empty the dough into a warm bowl, then processor-mix the remaining sponge and ingredients the same way if mixing the bread in two batches. Add second ball of dough to the first, and turn out onto a well-floured board. Knead the two together hard to form a single large ball; continue kneading 5 to 10 times until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a warm, greased bowl for the first rising and proceed as the recipe directs.
- Makes two tall 7-inch round loaves