This is a version of one of the most beloved dishes at Jazzfest, which everybody seems to love.

For some reason, though, crawfish bread never did much for me. (I prefer the Creole's Stuffed Bread, from Creole's Lunch House in Lafayette. I'd do almost anything for that recipe!) I always thought that the Jazzfest crawfish bread had too much cheese, not enough seasoning. But then again, I could eat crawfish in almost anything. This version, though not exactly like the one served at Jazzfest, is mighty good and a bit more seasoned and aesthetically pleasing than the Jazzfest fare.

I now prepare for the onslaught of hate mail from Jazzfest disciples for daring to diss their crawfish bread. :)

In a large mixer bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, thyme, oregano, basil, onion and garlic powders and peppers. Gradually add the warm water and oil to the dry ingredients, then beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, stopping to scrape the bowl occasionally. Beat for 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Knead dough on a floured surface until it's smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in volume, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Punch the dough down. Place on a floured surface and roll into a 10x14" rectangle. Scatter the crawfish lengthwise over the center third of the dough. Top with pimientos, green onions and shredded cheese. With a sharp knife, make cuts from the filling to the dough edges at one-inch intervals along the sides of the filling. Alternating sides, fold the strips at an angle across the filling for a braided effect. Place on a greased baking sheet; cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, 30-45 minutes.

Brush the loaf with egg wash and sprikle with sesame seeds, if desired. Bake in a preheated 400° F oven until done and golden brown, 30-35 minutes.

YIELD: One loaf of spicy crawfish bread!


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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)