The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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theamazingtumnus's picture
theamazingtumnus

hello hello

As a former resident of the Gulf Coast (LA and MS) now stuck in the Central Valley of California I have embarked upon a mission (an obsession some might say) to find the secrets of making a good loaf of po'boy bread. I've yet to find a loaf of bread that will properly house my roast beef, barbecue shrimp or whatever other culinary wickedness I wish to eat as a po'boy. The crusts are too soft or too hard. The crumb is far too dense. The shape is not right. If you want something done right you gotta do it yourself. Hence, my quest (obsession).

For those of you not familiar with po'boy bread (poor, poor souls) I'll give you a quickthumbnail sketch. A French baguette with a very open crumb and a flaky crust that makes a pile of crumbs in your lap when you eat it.

I've just stumbled upon the concept of autolyse for the open crumb and have a loaf in the works as I type. Here's hoping I get closer to my prize with this new technique.

I'm also using steam for the crust and at least one baking stone in the oven.

Anyone who is of assistance to me gets a free po'boy when I open my restaurant here in Fresno. Honest.

(I also like baking all other kinds of bread, but my head is full of po'boy right now - we did just celebrate Mardi Gras, ya know. I'll move onto other loaves after this quest is completed.)

Your culinary Don Quixote,

sean

 

 

Wayne's picture
Wayne

Hi Don:

You are making my mouth water thinking of those wonderful po-boy's in New Orleans... spent much time there as my company had a branch off the levee and I ate po-boys for lunch everyday (roast beef and wet of course).  I have been trying for a while to duplicate their french bread but have fallen short.....I don't know if you can duplicate what comes out of those old brick ovens. The autolyse and wet dough will definately give you the holes you are looking, however matching the taste may be another quest.  Welcome to the forum.

Wayne

theamazingtumnus's picture
theamazingtumnus

I was actually looking online at plans to build my own brick oven. That's how bad its gotten. LOL

I thought I had found some rolls here in town that were close until my dad sent me 6 loafs of Reisings for Mardi Gras. The local bread was not as close as I had made myself belive that it was. Now I'm rationing the last half a loaf...

 

wmessin's picture
wmessin

Take it from someone who's been trying to do exactly what you are trying to do, but for at least the last year.

I have used the recipe in John Folse's encyclopedia to cajun and creole cooking.  I've tried the 3 page recipe in "The New Orleans Cookbook".  I've tried and tried and tried.

I will say this....the closest I've ever come to making real poboy bread is filling a pan on the lower rack of the oven with boiling water just before placing the risen dough into the oven.  That helped create a good bit of steam without having to open the door up constantly to use a spray bottle.

Also, you have to look for high quality, high protein bread flour.  The New Orleans bakeries have their flour milled to their specifications which may be the reason we might never truly duplicate it.

I once brought a bottle of New Orleans tap water home with me to see if that would make a difference (see....I'm obsessed too).  It did change it slightly.

I use a couple of tablespoons of vital wheat gluten in my flour mixture.  I also sometimes use Steen's pure cane syrup instead of just sugar. 

Leidenheimer uses a sponge technique to make their bread (I don't think Binder's does though).  Sandy Whann of Leidenheimer's says that there are no short cuts that you can take to make their bread.  There's a method of the sponge, and letting it rest for a few hours, then baking the dough, and resting, and kneading and resting, and separating and resting, and forming and resting. 

There's a recipe in one of Frank Davis' cookbooks that I'll try next.  I will say this, I have managed to get the crust just about right when using the boiling water in the pan technique I mentioned (Oh....and I also let my dough proof inside the oven - turned off of course during the initial proofing stage - with the boiling water in the pan.  this helps keep the dough very moist and warm throughout the entire proofing process).

Where I've failed, is that the crumb has never been exactly right and I'm not sure I ever could get it right.  I must be missing something in my technique or ingredients.  And the flavor hasn't been right on either.  It's good....and makes for a pretty good poboy in its own right, but it's not "it" yet.

I'll keep trying though.  and I'll give any other input as I continue to learn.  I've read just about everything that google can supply me with on New Orleans french bread.

Let me know if you have any break throughs as well.

Wayne - Tennessee

phil's picture
phil

I, too, am similarly obsessed. I've tried much of what Wayne (from Tennessee) has tried. In addition I tried the recipe in John Folse's Cajun-Creole cooking Encylopedia. It calles for Steen's syrup instead of sugar. It also calls for 1) Bread flour 2) Bread machine flour, 3) High gluten wheat flour. I think this is an effort to get the protein level correct. This gave me the best results (once, maybe twice). I get bread that is tasty, and is lighter than the baguettes that are available, but not light enough.

The attempt at using NO tap water is interesting. Did the chlorine content affect the yeast?

Phil -- New Orleans native displaced in Georgia

renoles's picture
renoles

eMail Danno of http://www.nolacuisine.com and see if he got a recipe to work out. He mentions working on one in his Muffaletta bread recipe.

 Rob - a Georgia native in process of relocating to New Orleans

wmessin's picture
wmessin

I've had discussions with Danno over on another board about this in the past and he's basically stuck where I am right now.  I do have some other ideas but I just haven't had a chance at trying for a little while.  I'll get to it soon enough though.

joe's picture
joe

Leidenheimer's bakery makes the best poboy bread.  They use a tunnel oven.  I've been trying to duplicate poboy bread for awhile but not much luck.  Had lunch on Bourbon street last weekend.  They brought a hot loaf of leidenheimer french bread to the table in a paper bag.  It was wonderful.  the crust was crispy,  the crumb was light.  It was like a souflee.  It's like the holy grail of bread making.  We need to find this recipe. 

theamazingtumnus's picture
theamazingtumnus

Gonna be in NO next week. You know I'll be filling up on some bread...okay filling up on LOTS of stuff, but bread is in there! In fact, I'll be bringing as much poboy bread home on the plane with me as I can. I'm packing light and saving room for shrimp, poboy bread and maybe some CDM coffee in my checked baggage.

I'm an addict. I know. 

marktony's picture
marktony

I grew up in Slidell and now live in Atlanta, GA 

I am also looking for the New Orleans French secrets, but really have not attempted to bake my own.  I have mastered the King cake and Beignets.  My Beignets are the best in Atlanta (compared to restaurants). 

Phil and Rob,

There is a Po'Boy shop near Grant Park that has GOOD Po'Boys made on imported Leidenheimer's bread.  I had my first Po'Boy (shrimp) there last week.  Theirs is the best that I have tasted in Atlanta.  I just wish they had a Muffaletta.  There is a place in Tucker (Rotagilla) that serves a Muffaletta COLD!  Yuk.  The Tucker place also seems to use a low quality of meats.

 The Grant Park Po'Boy shop is called Just Loaf'n (address below).  The PoBoy was great and I want to try the Roast beef next time.  I hear the gumbo is sub-par.  I thought the Red Beans and rice were just ok.

 I think I will go back and attempt to buy some bread.

313 Boulevard Se
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 525-4001

 

 

StrokerMcgurk's picture
StrokerMcgurk

What does the term tunnel oven mean? Is it brick? StrokerMcgurk

KateDaring52's picture
KateDaring52


Hello i am new here nice to join this wonderful forum...hope i will learn lot of knowledge from all of you guys. Thanks


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eann's picture
eann

Greetings


I too seem to be on the same quest though I'm not from NOLA. My first (and only thus far) attempt was made using the "blasphemy" New Orleans French Bread recipe from another thread as my guide. The original (identical) recipe can be found here:


http://www.labellecuisine.com/archives/bread/new_orleans_french_bread.htm


Note the reference to G.H. Leidenheimer Baking Co. I figured this to be as good a place as any from which to start. I took some liberties, making adjustments that I felt would improve how I imagined the original would turn out otherwise. All in all the end result was good (especially for my first try) but I agree with other posts in that something is still not quite there. Having read through other sources, it has been revealed that Leiden's admits to using a sponge and a "long" ferment. The recipe I used uses the direct method, automatically prediposing it to a less flavorable loaf from the get go. The same site I posted above offers a recipe for a sourdough French Bread who's ferment time is 2-5 days. I'm wondering if incorporating a tweaked sourdough method of this sort would get us closer to the flavor we're trying to achieve. The answer has to lie somewhere in the middle.


Where I deviated from the original recipe: I made six 8" long loaves instead of two long loaves (making them po-boy sized), each were scored, I used a cornstarch glaze, I baked on a stone, and I used a water pan for steam. All of these achieved favorable results so these will all be utilized again in future attempts. (My recipe copy has been changed to include these and saved.)


My notes for future tweaks: First, I will definitely use a pre-ferment to improve flavor quality (how long is the question); during shaping I will pat each dough ball out into a rectangle, being careful not to degas too much, roll up from one long side and seal the seam then 'rock n roll' to length. This may get me closer to the crumb texture I am looking for (as I have seen others describe as "cotton candy"); I use kosher salt which I'll increase by 1/2 t; I believe the 10 minute KitchenAid "knead" was too long and contributed to the tight (though tender) crumb I experienced (it also gave my motor quite a work out making me very nervous). I plan to either "mixer knead" for 5 minutes then by hand 5, or simply reduce the mixer time to 6 minutes next time; I'm also considering using olive oil as my fat of choice while also increasing the amount.


Lastly, and more importantly, I will convert everything to a percentage formula (weighing my ingredients) rather than leaving it in a volumized form (ie cups, teaspoons etc) for consistent results should I hit the jackpot after more trial and error attempts. Understand that by using a "scoop" method, each batch using the exact same recipe will be slightly different every time, both between your batches and between each others'. If I am to dup Leiden's (or any other professional) I need to get the measurements in weight down. We may never hit the exact formula, but I'm all for getting damn close!


Having said all that, the end result of my first attempt was really pretty darn good. If anyone else does more test runs, keep us posted on your results. : )


Cheers,


Elizabeth


 PS I took pics of my po-boy bread attempt during each stage of the process plus a pic of the end result - my homemade shrimp poboy I made for the Saints Super Bowl game last week, complete with Zapps and an Abita Pecan Harvest. Unfortunately, I can't figure out a way to include pics in my post : (

eann's picture
eann

Greetings


I too seem to be on the same quest though I'm not from NOLA. My first (and only thus far) attempt was made using the "blasphemy" New Orleans French Bread recipe from another thread as my guide. The original (identical) recipe can be found at the La Belle Cuisine site.  (stupid spam filter won't let my use the url)


Note the reference to G.H. Leidenheimer Baking Co. I figured this to be as good a place as any from which to start. I took some liberties, making adjustments that I felt would improve how I imagined the original would turn out otherwise. All in all the end result was good (especially for my first try) but I agree with other posts in that something is still not quite there. Having read through other sources, it has been revealed that Leiden's admits to using a sponge and a "long" ferment. The recipe I used uses the direct method, automatically prediposing it to a less flavorable loaf from the get go. The La Belle site offers a recipe for a sourdough French Bread who's ferment time is 2-5 days. I'm wondering if incorporating a tweaked sourdough method of this sort would get us closer to the flavor we're trying to achieve. The answer has to lie somewhere in the middle.


Where I deviated from the original recipe: I made six 8" long loaves instead of two long loaves (making them po-boy sized), each were scored, I used a cornstarch glaze, I baked on a stone, and I used a water pan for steam. All of these achieved favorable results so these will all be utilized again in future attempts. (My recipe copy has been changed to include these and saved.)


My notes for future tweaks: First, I will definitely use a pre-ferment to improve flavor quality (how long is the question); during shaping I will pat each dough ball out into a rectangle, being careful not to degas too much, roll up from one long side and seal the seam then 'rock n roll' to length. This may get me closer to the crumb texture I am looking for (as I have seen others describe as "cotton candy"); I use kosher salt which I'll increase by 1/2 t; I believe the 10 minute KitchenAid "knead" was too long and contributed to the tight (though tender) crumb I experienced (it also gave my motor quite a work out making me very nervous). I plan to either "mixer knead" for 5 minutes then by hand 5, or simply reduce the mixer time to 6 minutes next time; I'm also considering using olive oil as my fat of choice while also increasing the amount.


Lastly, and more importantly, I will convert everything to a percentage formula (weighing my ingredients) rather than leaving it in a volumized form (ie cups, teaspoons etc) for consistent results should I hit the jackpot after more trial and error attempts. Understand that by using a "scoop" method, each batch using the exact same recipe will be slightly different every time, both between your batches and between each others'. If I am to dup Leiden's (or any other professional) I need to get the measurements in weight down. We may never hit the exact formula, but I'm all for getting damn close!


Having said all that, the end result of my first attempt was really pretty darn good. If anyone else does more test runs, keep us posted on your results. : )


Cheers,


Elizabeth


 PS I took pics of my po-boy bread attempt during each stage of the process plus a pic of the end result - my homemade shrimp poboy I made for the Saints Super Bowl game last week, complete with Zapps and an Abita Pecan Harvest. Unfortunately, I can't figure out a way to include pics in my post : (


 

eann's picture
eann

ugh...


I thought my first post got deleted : /

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Sean, Elizabeth, et al.,

I'm on this quest myself!

So far, not even close...although I'm not really that concerned about getting the crumb right, the crust has been a significant challenge so far. 

If you can track it down, there's an interesting clip from the Food Network show called "Meat & Potatoes", episode "Cheap meats" which aired on Mon, May 23, 2011. Host Rahm Fama goes to Dong Phuong, a Vietnamese restaurant/deli in the New Orleans outskirts for their banh mi sandwich. The majority of the clip shows their bread production process, the outcome of which is a crispy/flaky-crusted, light and fluffy bread that is probably close to what we're looking for.

They mixed up the dough, shaped into rough balls using a machine, the individual dough-balls ferment in a proofer (probably a 2nd fermentation) at 95-100F, then shaped using a machine into little logs, slashed, then sprayed down with water mist from a spray gun (they say that it's the secret to getting the crust right) and baked at, I believe Rahm says, "220 degrees" (which should be about 430F) for 20 minutes. He picks up a warm loaf from the oven, and demonstrates the crackly/flaky quality. 

The formulas I'm working with are lean. They only use flour, water, sugar, salt and soybean oil (which Leidenheimer uses, although shortening should work also). I've also added wheat gluten before (so does Leidenheimer) but I haven't been able to see the difference. A short 4-6 hour sponge is used to add flavor. Hydrations are on the low-side, in the 58-59% range. I'm going to try one as low as 56% to see what happens. 

My crust turns out too hard, and not flaky enough. In fact, thinking about it I think my crust is too dark and not golden yellow enough. Need to tweak oven temps, baking times, and steam quantity. I'm thinking slightly lower temps, more steam, shorter time. 

Another idea I've yet to try is to brush crusts with water/cornstarch before or after baking (but not both). Supposedly this can help with not only crispness but add a little bit of shine too. Apparently brushing the crust afterwards can help with the rate of interior cooling. Worth a shot to see the effects.