Banh Mi Success!
I've been trying to replicate both banh mi and New Orleans-style po-boy loaves off and on for years with minimal success. Most of the recipes here and elsewhere are complicated (rice flour or other uncommon ingredients; difficult shaping tips) or are too dense. By "dense" I'm referring to the weight per inch; the authentic loaves are usually about 2 oz. by weight for a 6" loaf and about 180 calories while recipes like Bernard Clayton's very popular and tasty version are often twice that weight and caloric density.
Well...I just stumbled upon a new recipe TODAY that holds great promise. I baked my first batch and they came out nice--great thin, shattering crust and soft interior. I'd like to maybe get a bit more rise, but these were really nice and easy to make.
It's a banh mi recipe from a vietnamese baker, Helen Le, who worked on the recipe for some time--check this out; it includes a long YouTube video with great shaping demo:
This photo is mine: I divvied up her recipe into 5 pieces rather than 3 to make 6" long loaves; next time I may do 4 longer loaves and trim the ends to get the squared-off po-boy look. (The trimmed ends, by the way, make awesome pain perdu/french toast!) I also tried hand kneading, but gave up after 15 minutes and finished in a stand mixer. I'm also going to try an overnight first rise in the fridge to get more flavor into the dough.
These came out GREAT for a first try--Good luck!