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.

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.

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.

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

OK I've got this started with the dough sitting, pulled out my wife's mothers old machine and it weighs 50 pounds but it still works just fine. 
I am going to make another dough in about 30 minutes so I can cook it behind the first, but I am going to put enough water for the dough in the blender first, with one medium onion, 4 big cloves garlic, big handful thyme and spicy oregano and puree it. 
Then strain it through a paper towel and get back to water with some flavor in it. 
Of course I have no idea what I am doing, but am going to try and see what happens. 
Do I need to cut strips in the loaves before baking them?