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Banh Mi

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longhorn's picture
longhorn

Banh Mi

A friend asked me some time ago to help him locate a good recipe for Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguette). I found a couple of recipes and tried using KA AP and the results were deemed to be tough. So my friend went looking for a good example for me to experience and found Lily's Sandwich in Austin, Texas. I went last week and had one of their sandwiches and established my reference point. The bread was amazingly soft and light, but with a seriously crisp crust. I knew I needed to go to a lower protein flour. The only lower protein AP I could reliably find was Gold Medal Unbleached AP which is supposed to be 10.5 percent protein vs. the 11.7 for KA.


My starting point was Andrea Nguyen's recipe at http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2007/05/vietnamese_bagu.html. I want to thank Andrea for her recipe. It got me off to a good start, but I did end up doing it my way. which is somewhat different.


My first pass gave good results but seemed a little overproofed and a bit tough compared to the bread at Lily. So I modified the recipe to use both Gold Medal and KA pastry flour and the results came out very close to what I had in Austin. I used marked proofing containers for the second batch and found the yeast specified in Nguyen's recipe way high for my needs. Here are the results...




 


Here is the basic recipe...


250 grams of lower protein unbleached AP flour (such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury's)


250 grams of pastry flour (such as King Arthur)


9 grams of salt


12.5 grams of sugar


4 grams of instant yeast


320 grams of water at 105 degrees F


I blended the flours, salt, sugar and yeast in a large stainless bowl with a spoon. Added the water and mixed to a ragged dough by hand, then switched to a plastic scraper and gave the dough about 100 "turns" simply using the scraper to catch the ball of dough at the bowl and pull it up and over the top, turn the bowl a bit to repostion the ball, and repeat about 100 times. Then I put the dough in the proofing container. The first doubling took about an hour. I then pulled the dough which was somewhat sticky onto a granite counter and gave it one complet stretch and fold (stretch to the top and fold, stretch down and fold, stretch to the right and fold and finally to the left and fold, effectively reforming a ball. Then back into the proofing container. The second doubling took about 50 minutes. Repeat the stretch and fold process. The next doubling took about 35 minutes. Then I formed three loaves and let the loaves proof 30 minutes. Moved them from a linen couch to parchment, spritzed, slashed, and loaded into a preheated 440 degree oven on a baking stone. I used a cast iron skillet with lava rocks for steam and added one cup of boiling water. I removed the parchment at 15 minutes and rotated the loaves. Total baking time was about 23 minutes. 


While the dough was fairly sticky I found that it could be easily handled with minimal flour during the forming process. This makes a very nice, very light, tender baguette. Andrea and I wound up using somewhat different processes and baking approaches so I suspect one should be careful about baking temperature and time. Your times and temperatures may be different - yeast needs also!


Good Luck!


Jay

Crider's picture
Crider

Do they sell White Lilly flour in Texas? It's supposed to be lower protein and the best for biscuits. I'm in California and I'll use La Pina tortilla flour for low-protein baking needs. 

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I have seen White Lily but it isn't real common. They also only make unbleached in bread and self rising flours so...not my preferred approach. We have a local flour (White Wings) that is supposed to be soft and I am trying to get its protein specs. Thanks for the suggestion!


 

rts306's picture
rts306

My understanding is that Vietnamese bakeries also use some rice flour.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Addressed in the "link" referenced in the op.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Rice flour is definitely used by many bakers in Vietnam, and almost certainly by many in the US.(Though most home cooks almost certainly use conventional, purchased French bread baguettes!) I made a number of earlier batches that used rice flour. Not bad, but not as light as my friend wanted. Playing with different concentrations of rice flour was clearly not the answer - given the rice and bread flour I was using. Andrea's post comments that she found rice flour made her banh mi heavy also.


I am going to be trying some more batches this week, hopefully with even softer flour.  I have not fully given up on rice flour. I have a feeling that the rice flour I am getting is not fine enough so I will also be trying to mill my own and see if that shifts the behaviour to something more acceptable.


 


 

mrmambo's picture
mrmambo

Nice recipe, Jay—Just made this as more of a po-boy loaf (no slash) and looks great! I'd love your input on a po-boy loaf recipe.

I tried yours in an attempt to mimic Leidenheimer's bread from New Orleans (photos of the real thing below). It's very similar to a banh mi, but is incredibly 1/2 as dense for the same length and width as any recipe I've tried. (I'm judging by calories; I made (2) 7"x1.5"x2.25" loaves of your recipe and they baked out to about 4 ounces each and 300 calories, while Leidenheimer's is about 6"x1.5"x2.5", weighs 2 oz, and is only 150 calories.)

I tried to derive a recipe from their nutrition info online:

http://www.leidenheimer.com/facts.htm

That works out like so (I went for high hydration, but have tried different amounts):

Leidenheim.
Clone 03/23
Baker's %
AP Flour 65.0g100.0%

Water 50.0g

76.9%
Sugar 1.0g1.5%
Oil 3.0g4.6%
Yeast 1.0g1.5%
 Salt 1.3g2.0%
Gluten 5.0g7.7%

I've tried pre-ferments (biga), milk instead of water, yeast boosters (Vitamin C), vital wheat gluten, AP and bread flour, various hydrations (up to 80% water), folding the dough to let it rise gently, steam in the oven at the beginning, temp ranges from 425° to 500°, different fats, different sugars...I'm getting tired just listing them all! Mine are tasty but just too dense.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

-Mark- 

longhorn's picture
longhorn

to answer your question. I still haven't arrived at what I want. Your recipe feels too small to be meaningful IMO. There seems to be a positive flavor factor to having a batch of dough in excess of about 4 pounds/2 kilos and quarter pound batches feel way small, bland, and most likely inconsistent. I have only recently really started workign with dough conditioners and I am too new to feel very positive about most of them. I don't see anything wrong with what you are trying, but...I don't have any meaningful suggestions either. I have tried a lot of those things and haven't found the right combo yet (for me) either!

Good Luck!

Jay

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

During my recent trip to Vietnam, I sampled lots of banh mi (which is not just the baguettes, but the fillings as well). I noted that the baguettes used in Saigon and the south generally were the typical light, fluffy and - it has to be said - rather tasteless baguettes that are common in Vietnamese bakeries all over Australia, and no doubt the States as well. Move north of Saigon, though, and the baguettes are certainly 100% wheat-flour-based and not dissimilar to Parisienne baguettes. I far preferred them to the southern variety.

BTW, the 'typical' southern Vietnamese baguettes may once have included a rice flour component, but my understanding is that this was not because of the quality of bread it produced, but out of economic necessity (rice flour being much cheaper than wheat). According to the folk I spoke to in Vietnam, refined white wheat flour is used now, including in the south. This is not to say that rice flour is never used, but I believe it's relatively uncommon these days. My bet is that the same is true of the Vietnamese baguettes we get here.

When I arrived home from Vietnam, I baked some white part-semolina SD mini-batards to use as banh mi buns, made up some pickled daikon/carrot and got together some banh mi fillings for lunch. It was nice, but not a keeper - the Vietnamese baguettes are best for banh mi (surprise surprise!). Even the southern style ones I otherwise found boring come into their own for banh mi. I reckon that's their best use.

Best of baking
Ross

PS: I neglected to comment on your baguettes - they look lovely! They probably taste a lot better than the Saigon-style banh mi rolls.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Looks very good Mark! Thanks for sharing! I need to do it again. Been too long!


Jay

mrmambo's picture
mrmambo

Thanks for the compliment, but that's not my bread--it's Leidenheimer's, which I'm trying to copyl :-)


I was hoping you'd have some advice, but no worries.


 


-m-

Jonathankane's picture
Jonathankane

Did you leave the steam pan in the oven the entire 23 min? I make baguettes on regular basis (Anis Bouabsa's recipe), I steam for 10min then remove the pan and continue baking. I've never had a Banh Mi sandwich, my nephew is making them for us in a few weeks. He raved  about the bread, I've never made  a light baguettes. Do you think they will freeze well?

 

Thanks,

Jonathan

mrmambo's picture
mrmambo

I finally found banh mi/po-boy loaf success, or at least the closest I've ever come. I searched the web intensively, running down every link I could for banh mi recipes and happened upon this one--others had success with it and it came from a vietnamese source:

http://bepnha.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/lại-banh-mi/

I ran it through Google Translate to get the ingredients and method--it produced (3) 16" loaves that were about 2.5-3" in diameter, light, and fluffy. Made the best po-boys and banh mi sandwiches I've ever made. Yay!

Some things that were different:

  • both butter and oil in recipe; I adjusted them to more match ratio of Leidenheimer's po-boy loaves
  • 2nd full kneading after letting dough rise/double--I've never kneaded it hard after the first rise
  • spraying salt water on loaves before baking

The other key element for me was a focus on shaping and rising--I used the method shown in this video, which I think helped produced a tight skin and perfect shape:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Idx4QJwcPHA

 

Here is the full recipe as I translated and adjusted it--this produces a fluffy, somewhat bland loaf, that's perfect for banh mi.

Bánh Mì / Po-Boy Loaves

Makes (3) 16-inch baguettes

Ingredients:


  • 1 cup warm water (100-110°F)
  • 2 tsp sugar

  • 2.5 tsp instant yeast

  • 340 grams bread flour

  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

  • ¾ tsp salt

Instructions:

Mix the yeast, sugar and water together and let sit for 10 minutes.

Add the flour, salt, butter and oil and mix until you have a soft dough (about 6-8 mins on med-low with dough hook in stand mixer). Form into a ball, coat with oil and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down, knead for 3-5 minutes, form into ball, and cover and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Shape into (successively):

  1. first: three balls, cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. then: three batards. cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes
  3. finally: three 16” baguettes, place on parchment, and let rise for 45 minutes until about doubled.

Preheat oven to 460°F, place a spare pan for steam on the bottom, and have 1 cup of boiling water ready.

Cut slashes into each loaf (optional), sprinkle with salt water and place in oven. Pour boiling water into a pan in the oven for steam and quickly shut oven door. Bake until golden, about 12-18 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.

From:
http://bepnha.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/banh-mi-cho-ngay-hom-nay/



jay-may-ray's picture
jay-may-ray

I have been having success with this type of bread for sometime- the most success came when I thought about how this bread would have been made in Vietnam over the years (simple ingredients, basic equipment) remembering many breads have similar ingredients but it is the technique that sets it apart.

- I don't use any recipe in particular, just a regular bread recipe (500g flour, salt, sugar (optional), water and dried yeast, leave out any oils/fats - the difference is the technique and the type of flour, for ease of description I will explain my technique using the first recipe of this thread.

I add more water and I do use a full packet of dried yeast (8g dried). I just use cheap unbranded supermarket plain flour for this bread, as high protien bread flour is too strong (mentioned somewhere else in the thread). I mix the bread in an old Kenwood with a paddle mixer (forgot the dough hook once and it was the best batch yet) - and the mix is what I would term 'wet' when I finished- I can still form it into a ball but it spreads, it's much softer than regular bread dough but not as wet as ciabatta - So recapping: using cake flour, just adjust your favourite recipe with more water, remembering to also leave out the oils/fats and only use the sugar if you want too, for extra flavour. 

I mix the dough for about 10 minutes in the mixer, on a medium speed - tip out onto a lightly floured bench and quickly knead for a minute -rise, degas and stretch according to recipe - after final rise handle gently and don't degas just cut into 2 - 4 or 6 pieces (personal choice - I make 4) -Here is the little trick - take each piece in turn, pinch and draw up the opposite sides (The bits touching the bench) pinching them onto each other, at the top, I work my way around each roll in a clockwise fashion (15-20 pinches) leaving about 2.5cm (1 inch) unpinched on each side - I now have an oval shaped bun with a pinch seem on top and the ends unpinched, next, just pinch each end onto itself (the aim here is that you are trying to make a tight/tensioned 'skin' on the bun). Place the bun, seam side down onto a piece of silicon paper (I am sure this would be traditional- lol) and make a slash, if you have pinched correctly the bun will immediately spring apart, repeat the process with the other buns and allow to rise, per the recipe. 

OVEN: preheat to 250 degrees celcius - with one/two pizza stones in place, along with a small loaf tin to get hot, ready for some boiling water-  oven needs to be at this temperature for at least 30 minutes

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Spray the buns until quite wet, with water and don't tell anyone this next bit (remember it's a secret) - with fingers softer than feathers, gently polish/massage the top of the wet bun for a second or two (this makes a slurry on the top that adds crunch).

BAKING: The next bit is on a timeline.

@ 0 minutes - Have the kettle boiled,  working super quickly to minimise heat loss from the oven (30 seconds is too long), place buns (still on the silicone paper) onto the pizza stone/s and immediately pour 1/2 cup of boiling water into the cake tin to generate steam.

@5 minutes - drop the temp down to 200 degrees celcius.

@10 minutes - remove cake tin of water and using tongs along with a flick of the wrist, snap the silicone paper from under the buns (if it wont come out don't stress, just leave it)

@20 minutes - the buns should be done or almost done, testing is the same as for other bread buns

Let cool and enjoy - even if you don't get the light as air bun the first time keep trying it will happen one day.

mrmambo's picture
mrmambo

Deleted--this recipe and technique didn't work for me; came out oddly-shaped, didn't rise enough, crust wasn't crackly crispy, etc.. Thanks, though--will keep on trying!

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Good comments. Time for me to give this a try again Will give it a shot!

Thanks!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

no pictures showed up for some reason.

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

The chef who posted this up on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezcEzELnAzA

used half bread flour and half high gluten flour. The link to the pizzamaking forum didn't work. 

I found another recipe which was based from another youtube video. I tried it, but it didn't come out right. I'm pretty sure the person meant 300 to 325 F and not Celsius since they live here in Los Angeles. I think it has to be the low oven temperature because the color of the bread is a light golden brown. Copy and pasted:

In my search for making Vietnamese baguette, I appreciated everyone effort for trying to seek out the true recipe. Like many of you, I have tried several recipe with different degrees of success and failure. I ran into this video, which seems to be the real deal. It is in Vietnamese, so I will write out the recipe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_Mft9aehXA

1 kg flour (He used bread flour, but I think all-purpose will work…guess what, no rice flour)
10g yeast
6g salt (He did say about half the yeast amount)
3 cups water (But you have to adjust the water to get the right consistency. He did mentioned that when he makes it with his commercial mixer, the dough comes together and that is when he knows it has the right consistency. Uyen was using a mixing attachment instead of a dough hook. It was obvious she didn’t know what she was doing. You never turn a stand mixer on high when mixing dough.)

rest dough for 10-15 mins
divide dough into 100g each and rest 5 mins

form into loaf (see video, he showed you how to make two version. for the long and thin loaf, he forms the short version and let the dough rest for 5 mins before elongating)

let formed dough rise for 45-60mins at ambient room temperature. longer for cold climate and shorter if you have a proof oven.

300 degrees for 20-25mins or until golden brown. they mentioned that a convection oven is what is used at the bakery. in term of water mist, he said to use it if the formed dough looks dry or you can mist it during the baking. I guess it is not that important to the recipe. Because they didn’t mist the dough. 

mrmambo's picture
mrmambo

Great resource--I've been poring thru those banh mi postings on the Pizzamaking forum for a while today and am trying the recipe now. The main poster, Chau (aka Jackie Tran), spent weeks going thru research and trials and seems to really have perfected it. 
(BTW--you need to join the site and post an intro paragraph before you can see his notes on the main thread at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,16102.60.html)

Also, the video of the "banh mi master" on YouTube is in vietnamese, but has some great info if you watch how he rolls out the loaves. He's much rougher with it than I usually am and simply rolls them up tight, rather than pinching or folding or any of the other complicated shaping methods. Chau tried the banh mi master's recipe, but wasn't as succesful as he was with his own.

Here is Chau's successful recipe if you want to try it--his photos are below and are MAGNIFICENT!

Chau's Banh Mi Method

I usually make 3 baguettes with a starting weight of around 145-150gm each.  Post bake they are about 120gm, and around 118 after they cool down.
F 100% 50/50 BF/HG.  If using 100% HG flour adjust hydration up to 72-73%
w 67%
IDY 1%
salt 1% (adjust to taste up to 2%)
brown sugar 1%
vinegar 1%
oil 0.5%

-Dissolve IDY in water, and mix equal amounts of flour to make a poolish.  Cover and rest at RT until doubled to triple.  Use before it collapses though.
-add remaining ingredients except the oil, and mix until the dough is well developed, about 4-5min in a KA mixer on speed 2, or Bosch for about 6min on speed 1.
-add oil at the very end of the mixing period.
-coat hands in oil, ball the dough up, cover and rest until dough has doubled or a bit more.
-remove and reball, this will degass the dough a bit.  Rest the dough for just a few minutes and divided into 150gm portions.
-reball each piece, degassing the big bubbles.
-cover and allow to rest about 10min for the balls to relax.
-flatten each ball with palm, and stretch open as if opening a pizza dough but not that thin.  You want a disk that is about 1/2" thick or so.
-roll it tightly into a cylindrical shape or shape using traditional baguette shaping techniques.
-roll each log out to desired length and place into a baguette pan seam side down.  You may also proof using a baker's couche/linen.
-coat hands with oil and gently pat the tops of the loaves.  This will help them stay moist and prevent drying and sticking.
-cover with another pan, lid, or plastic sheet.  Proof until loaves double.
-Score and load into a hot oven.   Lots of different methods for steaming and baking bread and they all seem to work well.
-bake about 20-25m until desired browness.
*yeasted bread in general should finish their expansion during the bake.  When tapped, the baked loaves should have a hollow sound. Bread should feel relatively light in hand compared to the relative volume of the loaf.

 

 

 

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

mrmambo, thanks for finding and posting the recipe. I'll try the recipe next time. 

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

Another video on youtube on the process of making banh mi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-0zL7J923s

The dough seems like a low hydration dough. They added a bit of butter. Usually banh mi doesn't have butter. They kneaded until a windowpane forms. They let the dough rise. Then divide the dough into palm size. They formed into balls. Let them rest. The shaping involves stretching the dough out into a disk and slamming it on the counter and then rolling it up. They don't elongate. They proof in a proofer at 35 C for about 90 minutes. The dough looks to be doubled in size.  Slash. As for baking, the baking temperature is 180 C to 190 C and baked for about 15 minutes.

mrmambo's picture
mrmambo

Thanks--the shaping technique is very similar to that shown in the YouTube video that you and Chau previously referenced. I think it works well.

I tried Chau's recipe on Friday and used the "slapping & rolling" (as I call it!) shaping method--worked very well. I was making 195g (pre-baking) baguettes, as I was trying to replicate 16" po-boy loaves; they're about 150g post-baking or about 57g/2 ounces for a 6" cut loaf. Loaves were very soft inside with a thin crispy crust on the outside, esp. after toasting later.

I let them rise almost 2 hours on the final rise at about 65°F in my kitchen, with no slashing, as I wanted a smooth finish like a po-boy. They baked up to about 2x2" with a steam pan; I'm shooting for about 2.25x2.5-3", so I'm getting close.

The big revelation for me was the simplicity of the shaping--no folding, pinching, etc., just a very simple slapping and rolling-up. So many of the recipes I've tried have been similar, but I really think the key is in the shaping and rising. You have to let it rise almost to the size and shape you want, as I'm not seeing a huge oven spring.

I'm going to try again today, using my improvised proofing box--I use a large Igloo cooler with a quart-sized measuring cup full of boiling water on the bottom and the dough on a pan resting above; works very well to keep the heat and steam in during a rise, so I don't even need to cover it with plastic wrap, which can sometimes stick to the dough.

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

Thanks for the description on the method you used and the results.

I think the breads I made didn't proof enough, and they were proofed at a cooler temperature, too, like 65 to 70 F. Maybe that's why mine weren't light and airy. They always ended up slightly heavy and not fluffy.

I like the slap and roll method. No messing with flour since the dough isn't sticky. I think maybe the no flour and the oiled surface helps for a thin crispy crust. 

I looked at the video, and 35 C or 95 F seems like too high a temperature to proof, and 90 minutes sound too long.  Maybe because their dough contained butter, so they needed a high temperature to proof. It seems like they developed a lot of gluten, so mabye they could proof that long at that high a temperature.

I'm proofing mine in an a turned off oven but with boiling water and at a lower temperature, like 80 F and see. It seems like their rolls doubled in size. I just hope mine doesn't end up overproofed and deflated after the slashing.  I guess I'll keep on checking by nudging the dough with my knuckle and see if the dough slowly bounces back.

Edit: I tried Mr. Hong's recipe because I have the ingredients on hand.  I'll try Chau's recipe next time. The texture of the dough that I did was low hydration, so it wasn't a sticky dough. I did let it bulk ferment until doubled in size. I used oil to oil the exterior of each dough ball. Then slap and roll the dough. I haven't used a high proofing temperature yet because I was afraid of overproofing. Room temperature was 75 F, and the loaves were proofed for about 2 hour on a perforated baguette pan. I did the one slash from end to end. I still need work on the scoring. There was oven spring but not really a big expansion. I did like the thin crispy crust. The perforated sides were crispier than the tops. The loaves were light and fluffy inside. I'm guessing there wasn't so much water in the dough, so they were fully baked. I always get moist and heavy loaves with higher hydration dough because I couldn't bake them properly.

EvillyChic's picture
EvillyChic

I have tried and was able to follow Baker Hong's recipe very precisely since I am a Vietnamese. I ate Banh Mi almost every morning back when I was in Vietnam. Hong's recipe was very very close to what bakers in Vietnam do with their commercial Banh Mi. However, due to own observation, I am afraid you can get pretty good Banh Mi out of the this recipe, but not great, not the same airiness because in Vietnam, that recipe, except for all Hong's ingredient, has Vitamin C and bread improver.

More detail about how we make Banh Mi originally, follow this link: http://simplyafoodblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/the-adventure-to-the-mysterious-banh-mi-land-episode-12/

One more thing is that Hong's recipe tends to create quite tasteless/plain Banh Mi since there is a lack of bulk fermentation (which what Vietnamese bakers do too, but use bread improver as replacement). I ate Banh Mi they make in Vietnam and Banh Mi that I made following Hong's recipe, they are much different from each other.

Here is a recipe of Banh Mi that I create myself. It has shown stable success and have extraordinary result of crispy and airy loaves (baked at my home oven) : http://simplyafoodblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/adventure-to-the-mysterious-banh-mi-land-episode-22/ with pictures and detailed instruction. Or here in the forum: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/28474/recreation-mysterious-b%C3%A1nh-m%C3%AC-baguette

Basically, it's like this:

  • 160ml lukewarm water (around 35 degree Celsius)
  • 6g fresh yeast
  • 230g bread flour
  • 20g finely grounded rye flour
  • 20g sugar
  • 4g salt
  • 20g odorless oil such as sunflower or canola (or a mixture of 10g melted butter – 10g oil)
  • ½ vitamin C tablet (100mg acid ascorbic per tablet)

Rose,