New Orleans-style French Bread
Posted: 10 January 2008 12:37 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I am trying to duplicate the wonderful french poorboy loaves found in New Orleans- the crust is thin, shatteringly crisp and the interior is very light.  It’s not a complex, full flavored loaf, but it does a great job of holding a lot of fried shrimp! 

The recipe I found is:  1 pkg dry yeast (I use 1 Tablespoon instant as I don’t buy the packages), 2 1/2 cups warm water, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 6 1/2 - 7 cups of flour (I used unbleached all purpose).  Mix the water with yeast and sugar to dissolve, then add the salt and 6 cups of flour, mix well and knead for 8 minutes, adding the extra 1/2-1 cup if needed.  Rise once, shape into 4 loaves and rise to double again, paint with beaten egg white, slash, then bake at 450 for 15 minutes then 350 for another 30 minutes. 

I bake the loaves on parchment paper on a cookie sheet that I place on my stone, then I slide them off when I turn the temp down.  I also put some hot water in my cast iron pan in the bottom of the oven when I add the loaves. 

I get a very good loaf, but the crust is chewy, not crisp, and the interior is not as light as the rolls we get in New Orleans. Does anyone have any suggestions for me (besides moving to NOLA and buying at the local bakeries)?

TIA- Nancy G in Texas

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Posted: 10 January 2008 12:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The only thing that springs to mind is the issue of humidity in the oven during, but I’m not sure how to advise you to get the crust you mention. smile (sometimes you want the humidity, some times you don’t)

Have you checked The Bread Bible for it’s techniques in making baguettes??

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Posted: 12 January 2008 01:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Actually, I found a recipe for Vietnamese french bread- it uses a 50/50 mix of all purpose and white rice flours, and adds a touch of butter to the dough.  The loaves are slashed and spritzed with water before the last rise, and baked without steam. The interior texture was perfect, but the crust was not crispy enough, so I think if I use the egg white wash I might get something that would make my DH applaud.  Meanwhile, we are feasting on wonderful bread pudding and Pain Perdu made from extra loaves that were not devoured by my taste testers!   
Thanks for the input…Nancy

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