The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New Orleans French Bread - Poboy bread

wmessin's picture

New Orleans French Bread - Poboy bread

Some of this has been discussed in a thread over on the "intro's" forum (here: but I thought I'd go ahead and get it started here as well.

We're trying to determine the best way to come close to duplicating the traditional New Orleans style of french bread used for poboy sandwiches, etc.  This differs from what you traditionally find around the US, in my opinion anyway.  Typically the crumb can be very dense in baguettes of french bread you find here.  In New Orleans, the loaf has an incredibly light, almost cotton candy-like crumb, with a brittle, flaky light crust that tends to cause a a good pile of bread crumbs when eating poboys.

The flavor tends to be pretty distinctive as well.  German bakers that had settled in New Orleans were the ones that came up with the process of making the unique french bread that basically has remained unchanged all these years.  It also becomes stale rather quickly.

I've tried all of the tricks of keeping the dough as moist as possible, using steam in the oven....varying temperatures, using different ingredients and amounts (I've read the ingredients they list on their product, and read all I could find on the net about their processes that they are willing to share), I've even used some New Orleans tap water to see if there would be a difference.

If anyone has any clue or thoughts about New Orleans french bread that they would be willing to share I'd greatly appreciate it.

here's a couple pictures:


breadnerd's picture

Did you see this blog entry?


I haven't made it (yet) but it might be worth a shot!

wmessin's picture

yeah, I tried that one as well, and many variations of it.  But I wasn't getting anywhere remotely close with that one.  The flavor of that one was really off for me. 

It's funny, because that's what the Whann family submitted as "their recipe" (Whann is a decendent of the original Leidenheimer that began poboy bread in NOLA).  Then in a personal email Sandy Whann told me that they do indeed have a sponge stage, which that recipe doesn't call for.  Go figure.


harrygermany's picture


to get something similair to a French wheat bread one has to have a pre-fermented dough.
24 hours before baking make a dough with wheat flour (no wholemeal), water and just a tiny little bit of yeast (1/4 teaspoon or so).
Have the dough rather fluid (two weight parts cold water, one weight part flour).
Keep it in a cool place (e.g. fridge of ca 42°F).

Baking day mix with wheat flour and water, ad a little yeast (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon), and also some salt, knead well by machine for 7 minutes (control by watch!).
Again have the dough so wet that you just can knead it by hand. Not fluid, but not stiff at all. It will be a bit sticky. Let rest 15 minutes.

With a little wheat flour on the work table knead, stretch and fold the dough.
Stretch (pull) it a bit, fold it, turn it 90°, stretch it again, fold it, let it rest for 10 minutes covered and warm.
Then again stretch and fold. Let rest 10 minutes.
And a third time stretch and fold. Let rest 10 minutes.

Now form a loaf. If the dough doesn't like to be formed (like rubber), leave it for some more minutes.

Let the loaf prove until volume doubled.

Bake with 465°F for 40-60 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf.


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longhorn's picture

There is a good Banh Mi recipe on The Fresh Loaf site. I am making mine with half SOFT AP (like Pillsbury unbleached) and half pastry flour and I am getting pretty good results. 

Dhaus's picture

I as well have spent some time in the New Orleans area and love this bread.  There are a couple of places in my area that order this bread for their poboys to be authentic. I have tried some internet recipes and have never come quite close.  Has anybody found a formula for this particular french bread?  The crust is light, yet slightly chewy and the crumb is also very delicate.  A great bread for any hot sandwiches.