The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion


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.


Comments please

breadnerd's picture

I don't think it's blasphemy, I'd say there's an exception to every rule. :)


You know, there's a reason shortening (aka hydrogenated fat) has become SO prevelent in foods--it does add some good qualities to food (and aid in shelf life, etc). Food scientists spend a lot of time figuring out how to get the textures and mouth-feel that people like. Bakers have used (and use today) lard and butter to add flakiness to products, so it makes sense to me that shortening would help get the crust you wanted.  And it may not be "authentic" french bread but I bet you a lot of southern US french/new orleans bakers had secret ingredients just like this to create their favorite rolls.


Now as Julia Child would say, all things in moderation. I try to avoid a lot of processed foods with hydrogenated fats (and HFCS, as mentioned in another thread) but I don't see anything wrong with making a good poor boy roll once in a while!


I know what you mean, though--I have a million cookbooks too and I made cookies from a recipe from the back of a "heath bits" package and got so many compliments on them I felt almost guilty! Ha.

joe's picture


this recipe appears in Lee Bailey's New Orleans cook book and was credited to the Leidenheimer bakery--the premier new orleans poboy bread maker.  I just got a copy of the cook book yesterday.  This really is very close to the texture but the taste doesn't seem to be all there.    

bobjuliek's picture

I make a cuban bread using a homemade sour and shortening.  It has a nice flaky crust and is baked in a lower temperature oven.  I'm thinking that this recipe doesn't have the flavor profile because there is no sour or preferment in it.  I'm going to try this today with some old dough and good ole fashioned lard instead of shortening.  I'll post results tomorrow.

gary697's picture

I haven't tried this recipe yet. I am sad to hear it's from Leidenheimer's. When I had a restaurant in New Orleans we used Gendusa Bakery poyboy bread. Our choice was based on traditional New Orleans poyboy taste and texture. We made our choice at a restaurant food service show where nearly all of the bakeries were represented. This was before 20 years before Katrina so I don't know what bakeries are still around.

I will try it and voice my opinion at a later date. Thank you for posting it.

Islandlakebaker's picture

I am not a scientist, but I have have unfortunately lost my spouse, and now losing my sister In-Law, both to cancer.  In both cases the oncologists have said that hydrogenated fats are poison.  Like the previous person said... it is in everything because it makes things last longer, (read lables on the food you buy, it is everywhere).  My point is does it make US last longer?

I am a steak on the grill, martini with a cigarette or two kind of guy so surely you will all say I have nothing to add.  I just do not buy nor add into my diet hydrogenated products,  specially the bread I bake.



Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

You might try this with virgin coconut oil. Healthier and probably add a nutty taste.

berryblondeboys's picture

I'm pretty sure that shortening is no longer hydrogenated oils. I know it's caused a lot of uproar with the cake forum I used to go to a lot as it changed the recipes. I don't use shortening, but it's not your grandmother's shortening today.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Nope, Crisco is chock-full of FULLY hydrogenated fats/oils.

What they got rid of was the PARTIALLY hydrogenated stuff, which produces trans-fat.  Trans-fat is the bad thing they're trying to get out of food these days.

Coconut oil, btw, is probably not the best substitute, being as it's 92% saturated fats.  A real artery clogger.

So has anybody else tried this recipe?  I'm getting absolutely crazy desperate for some halfway decent baguettes!  My latest failure actually had to be thrown away.


Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

[Copyrighted material removed by the editor.  Please do not copy and paste entire articles w/o permission.

Original copy of the text can be found here.


dscheidt's picture

You are prepared to provide an actual citation for all the miracle claims you make, right?  DOIs of the journal articles are strongly perfered. 

berryblondeboys's picture

Geez that's right - trans fats - doy! Sorry about that stupidity comment.

Islandlakebaker's picture

I have a can of Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening in front of me.  Says 0 TransFat on the front.  Here are the ingredients verbatim:


When one starts reading lables you will find that hydrogenated oils are in just about all processed foods in the grocery store.  Look at commercially offered breads, I found only one brand out of 23 that did not have it nor high fructose corn syrup, that a company called Brownberry.  Not advocating them... my bread is better!  LOL  Three oncologists in two different states have told me that both of these ingredients should be removed from our diets.

We as consumers have done a great job of getting Transfats out of our foods.  Lets work on the hydrogenated oils next!  I know they are a teriffic stablizer but...

I have made my chocolate chip cookies for years with half butter, half shortening, makes a soft and gooey cookie.  All butter makes a hard cookie.  Do not have a substitute for the shortening.  Any sugestions out there?

Will trade you my secret ingredient that makes my chocolate chip cookies sell out at the bake sales... two shots of Frangelico per batch!  Don't worry about the alcohol, it cooks off.


Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

I remember reading something about the cottonseed oil.  I'm too tired to go double check but supposedly it doesn't turn into transfats or not much transfat anyway, but there are concerns about pesticide residue.  (cotton is a heavily pesticide-d crop)  Upshot being its possibly bad for you too.

Also there's something about trace amounts of transfats at some level are still allowed to be labeled 0 transfats even though it's not really 0, it's just really really teeny teeny.  So apparently any transfats that might result from the remaining partially hydrogenated oils must fall below that level.

I don't use Crisco, haven't for years.

For chocolate chip cookies, I have some things I do to get them to come out soft instead of crispy that doesn't involve using Crisco.  The whole process is on my blog at

Barbarians at the Kitchen Gate - Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's really pretty simple.  Takes longer to read than to put into practice.  It really works.  When they first come out they're crunchy around the edges but after a few hours they're soft but not mushy all the way through.  I like the crunchy-edge soft-in-the-middle phase too, but it doesn't last very long.

About your secret ingredient (LOL!), not ALL the alcohol cooks off! 

Alcohol dissipation in cooking chart

From that chart it looks like somewhere between 40% and 50% of the alcohol will be left after baking a chocolate cookie for 10 to 11 minutes.

But really, how much alcohol could there be in ONE COOKIE out of a recipe that makes what, 4 dozen maybe?  A shot is what, 2 oz?  So 4 oz, 48 cookies, that's uuuuum .08 oz or about 2.3 ml per cookie, then 50% of that leaves .04 oz or 1.2 ml (rounding up) per cookie after baking.

Not enough to worry about IMO.  Even if you ate the whole batch of 48 you'd still only get a total of about one shot.  That's assuming the cook didn't steal any of the raw batter before baking!  I think it'd be way easier to just pour yourself a shot and nosh down on a handful of cookies rather than trying to eat the whole batch, LOL!

Got any secrets for how to make baguettes?  I could sure use some!  The easier the better.  Gettin' desperate here . . . and very very VERY impatient, LOL!

Islandlakebaker's picture

So the secret is melted butter, chilled dough, and a cool cookie sheet?!!?  My second batch always better than the first and always thought it was because the sheet was already hot!  I will try your ways my friend.

Frangelico is 40 proof, so less than a shot of whiskey or vodka!!!  LOL  Like you said over 4 dozen cookies, I am not worried when the neighborhood kids come running over when my odors cause them to ring my door bell.  I often end up making an another batch as there are none left.

Need a simple baguette secret as well.  Have been into my artisan bread baking but looking for a morning to dinner at the longest recipe.  Have company that calls and says that they are coming to the lake for the evening!

Thx for your ideas, I will try...


Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

It (a cool cookie sheet) makes a bigger difference on a HEAVY DUTY cookie sheet.  On the lightweight cookie sheets most folks use, the difference is much smaller.

I keep a baking stone in the oven 24/7 and I've noticed that with my good heavy cookie sheets, I don't have to turn the cookies, but I still do with the lightweight tins.  If I don't, you can see one side's browner than the other, but they don't come out half burned and half still underdone like pre-baking stone cookies.

BTW I don't put cookie sheets ON the baking stone, it sits by itself on the bottom rack.

Islandlakebaker's picture

I do have really nice, heavy duty cookie sheets.  I have always turned my cookie sheets as that is what my mother always did and I do not have a convection oven.  Never thought of using a stone but why not?!!?  Have always rushed to get the next batch in on the hot sheet.  Since I have three of them, (the heavy duty ones), I can always have a cool one ready to go.

See... this is the place for answers!!!!


Maeve's picture

I have try adding Frangelico to my chocolate chip cookies!


I use all unsalted butter in my recipe and it comes out crispy on the edges, but soft and gooey.  I don't know how to link things properly on this forum, but my recipe can be found in the Cookies section.


I get very good results with the Anis Bouabsa baguette recipe - I use King Arthur bread flour and don't spritz the baguettes and so it comes out with a somewhat chewy crust, so it may not be the baguette everyone is looking for, but my family likes it that way.

BerniePiel's picture

home.  I lived on the Island of Guam where the native people used a lot of cocunut in their cookiing, skin and hair care and was amazed at how beautiful their hair was.  The food dishes I prepared w/ coconut milk was always quite delicious.  Back then I wasn't concerned with something called "nutrition"--the war was on and there were other things more important to concern ourselves with.  Now, fifty years later i'm glad to read an email that is informative and helpful, especially something that is readily available-compare this with Acai Berries.

Very iinteresting read and will take awhile to digest and comprehend all the data there.  Thanks again, Doc Tracy.

Bernie Piel

jbaudo's picture

I use an all vegetable shortening from whole foods made by spectrum.  It is simply palm oil - it naturally stays solid at room temp - no need to hydrogenate.  I use it in frosting and cookies and it is really good.  It works just like crisco but is better for you.  My son can't have any dairy so I have learned to make substitutes.  It would probably work really well in the poyboy bread (we live in louisiana and there is NOTHING like a good shrimp poyboy - if the bread is good that is)  I don't think the coconut oil would work as well as the shortening in the bread because it melts at a very low temp so it is not always solid at room temperature.  But don't be too afraid to try coconut oil in other things.  I use it all the time and it is really very good and better for you than butter. BTW I am very healthy (had my heart checked out, weight is perfect etc.) so it isn't doing any damage.   From what I understand it is digested differently than saturated fat from animals in that  it is quickly burned for energy and not given a chance to be stored in the body.  It also smells wonderful. I also use whole coconut milk to bake cakes and make creamy sauces for pasta or rice or in soup in place of heavy cream.  I have gotten tons of compliments on my cakes and anything else that I use it in.  Nobody notices that I didn't use regular milk - there is no detectable smell or flavor just yum.