Good grief! I suppose it is just my inexperience, but after all these years of following the cant of my 14 books on baking, reading all the thoughts, advice, even nasty comments here, I find a loaf that is good for me.
I have sought, as some others have stated they have on here, a French Bread that tasted like the old New Orleans French Bread I was raised on. I could get a good, thin, crispy crust, but the taste and crumb always seemed either too dense, to holey and the taste seemed to miss . . . the ultimate po' boy French Bread seemed to be in the past.
Today, I tried a recipe I found somewhere that called it New Orleans French Bread. It has been in my Bread-Working file for over a year, and I felt that it was for the simple people who did not want to stretch themselves to make a REAL bread.
Reasons it worried me were it called for shortening, twice the yeast to which I was accustomed, a low (to me) temperature oven, no spritzing or steam, no scoring or slitting. The recipe called for the dough to be divided into 4 balls after an initial doubling, rested 15 minutes, then formed into 3" X 16" loaves and permitted to double again.
It tastes like the French Bread of old from New Orleans.
Now, this goes against just about everyting I think I have learned in the past few years. Anyone interested in trying this can do so with:
New Orleans French Bread
2 c warm (110 F) water
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs dry granulated yeast
2 tbs vegetable shortening
6 1/2 c bread flour
1 tbs salt
Place the 2 c water in the bowl of a stationary mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Add 1 tbs sugar and sprinkle with the yeast.
Allow to sit about 15 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling.
Add the remaining 1 tbs sugar, shortening, and 5 c flour.
Mix until a dough starts to form.
Add the salt and the remaining flour as needed until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Continue to knead with the dough hook 10 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead by hand for a minute or two, until dough is smooth and elastic.
Return it to the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm, draft-free corner to rise 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down, then divide it into four balls.
Cover these with a dishtowel and let them rest 15 minutes.
Form each ball into a 16 X 3" loaf.
Place the loaves on baking sheets, cover them with adamp cloth, and set aside to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
Heat oven to 375 F.
Gently place the fully risen loaves in the oven and bake about 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool on racks.
Makes 4 loaves.