The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help Needed: Increase height for Po-Boy Loaf recipe

mrmambo's picture

Help Needed: Increase height for Po-Boy Loaf recipe

Hi: I’m looking for a way to increase the lift in my home-baked po-boy loaves.

I’ve been using this recipe, from; it’s based on Lee Bailey’s great recipe:

It works well, but is about twice as dense by weight as the real Leidenheimer loaves I brought back from New Orleans recently. Tuesday I went to their site and tried to construct a recipe based on the ingredient list and Nutrition Info:
I based the technique on the one in Lee Bailey's recipe and by looking at some Peter Reinhart white bread recipes.

It worked okay, but is only about 1” high when the real stuff is closer to 1.5”. Plus, mine was only 11” long instead of 12”, so it really needs to be taller/fluffier.

My attempts at home-made dough enhancers Included adding (to the 65g of KA bread flour per 12” loaf):

  • skim milk instead of water
  • 5g (abt. 2 tsp) of Vital Wheat Gluten (Hodgson’s Mill)
  • ¼ tsp of vinegar (same amount of yeast, per advice)
  • high hydration rate: about 77%

Their ingredient list shows wheat gluten plus ammonium sulfate and calcium sulfate as “yeast nutrients”, hence my attempts at dough enhancing.

Part of my motivation, too, is to get the calories down; the recipe is about 360 calories per 6” loaf vs. only 150 calories for the same from Leidenheimer.

Any advice would be much welcomed; I can provide any details you seek.



p.s.: Here was Tuesday's attempt; list of ingredients and baking %:


  • KA Bread Flour 65.0g 100.0%
  • Water 8.0g 12.3%
  • Sugar 1.0g 1.5%
  • Soybean Oil 3.0g 4.6%
  • SAF Instant Yeast 1.0g 1.5%
  • Salt 1.3g 2.0%
  • Skim Milk 42.0g 64.6%
  • Vital Wheat Gluten 5.0g 7.7%
  • Vinegar 1.0g



ehanner's picture


It would be helpful if you could post photos of your work.

Interesting that the writer who is giving the recipe first says that the local Po Boy loaf is a  French bread mix then the recipe he gives includes sugar and fat. The local bakeries generally use a tunnel oven to produce a loaf with a cloud like puffy interior and a cracked thin crust that cracks away without any encouragement. Eating the sandwich creates a shower of crust crumbs.

I suggest you use AP flour and not Bread Flour. And, I would skip the enhancers. Warm Milk and a little shortening will give you a light soft crumb. Maybe less shortening. If you want that flaky crust that shatters when you take a bite, try misting the dough with Pam just before baking. I know it's counter intuitive but, it works for me. Hope this helps. Pictures pictures!


mrmambo's picture

Thanks, Eric—good suggestions all around! I don't have a photo of my clone attempt, but attached is one of the recipe—believe me, I've eaten a ton of po-boys (and have the real bread in the freezer) and this was quite close to the real thing.

My process:

I took the ingredients found on the Leidenheimer's bag, put them in an Excel spreadsheet, and adjusted amounts until the calories and fat were about equal to Leidenheimer's. That's how I got the baker's ratios (bottom of my original post).

As for sugar and fat:

If you look at the Leidenheimer's bag, they use soybean oil (2g in a 6" loaf). By my calculations, that worked out to about 4.6% (baker's ratio) in my recipe.

They also list sugar; amounts would vary depending on your flour's sugar levels (mine is KA), but it's about 1-1.5%.



mrmambo's picture

Also, per an interview with Sandy Whann, owner of Leidenheimer's, they age their dough for some time. I would guess 1-3 days based on my own experience, as their bread isn't overly flavorful or boozy.

I'm considering doing a biga and a 1-day rest in the fridge to see if that helps any.

Interview with Sandy:

ehanner's picture

It was interesting to listen to the words of the bakery owner as he described the history of the product and how the aging process is so important. The image you added is a nice French bread but the crumb isn't light and airy, cloud like soft white bread, as has been described. The crust looks pretty normal too. Still good bread however.

From what I understand about a tunnel oven, you have a large capacity to steam heavily which helps both the crust surface expand and the crumb to achieve max volume.A home baker is challenged to create a similar environment, but maybe.

I wouldn't be convinced that high gluten (Bread Flour) is the product used here regardless of what you read. Light airy crumb and high gluten are hard to get in the same product.Adding vital wheat gluten

I think you have to look less at the ingredient list and more at technique to accomplish this goal. Another idea comes to mind concerning crumb quality. I would give some thought to a double hydration mixing scheme. SteveB did some work whisking a slurry to incorporate air bubbles in the beginning that seems to work. Fermenting the dough for an extended period in a refrigeration environment (aging) is in conflict with all of the Po Boy knock off recipes by many authors who use a fast acting warm liquid to mix this dough. Perhaps a biga or poolish is the aging he is describing, followed by a mix made with warmer ingredients to blow up all those bubbles into an airy crumb.

Strangely, my best results in trying to duplicate the crusty flaky top has been to mist the dough with oil just prior to baking. It may be time to dust off this idea and work on it again. Great podcast, thanks for pointing that out. And, the photo is making me drool.


mrmambo's picture

Thanks, Eric—I'm trying a biga and then 1-day rest to see how that does. Will let you know on Monday or Tuesday. Maybe do biga the first time and then biga/rest the second to see if it makes a difference.


If you want see the "real deal", here are photos of po-boy loves from Leidenheimer's that I brought home. It's definitely an open loaf and quite airy, but it really didn't seem night and day from what I baked.

(BTW—I wonder if the Leidenheimer site's calorie count is wrong and I'm trying to replicate a lightness that doesn't exist!)

Oh, and the second photo is a fried chicken and white gravy po-boy I made last week...amazing!




ehanner's picture

All those little cracks in the crust! That's what I'm talking about. And the crumb, beautiful. Thanks!



mrmambo's picture

Hey, Eric:

I've followed yours and others' attempts (txfarmer) and wanted you to know that I've come very close--I'm probably 95% satisfied, which is a lot for me! I moved to an authentic banh mi recipe, which gave me a great base. The only issue remaining is getting the crust a bit crunchier...I'm debating cooking hotter/quicker or cooler/longer, but I may have to adjust hydration.

The keys were:
1) shaping (getting a nice, tight baguette shape);
2) long kneading (getting really strong window pane; twice as long as I usually do)
3) long cold initial rise (adds flavor, lets flour hydrate, gluten form);
4) long, long final rise (really get the dough puffed up)
5) bake quickly in a hot oven (with steam pan inside)

Po-Boy Loaves
Makes (3) 16" loaves

- KA Bread Flour: 340g, 100%
- Water (cool; 50-60°F): 227g, 67%
- Sugar: 2 tsp/8g, 2.4%
- SAF instant Yeast: 1.5 tsp/5g, 1.5%
- Butter (room temp): 1 tsp/5g, 1.5%
- Vegetable oil: 2 tsp/10g, 3%
- Table salt: .75 tsp/5g 1.5%

- Mix in KA mixer for 15-20 minutes on 3 to develop strong window pane (or 5 mins in food processor), per txfarmer's suggestion
- Form into ball, refrigerate overnight
- Should double in size. Punch down, return to fridge until needed or let rise on counter
- Let return to doubled size on counter, cut into 3 pieces, form into batards (6"), let rest 20 minutes
- Roll out into baguettes, 16" long, about 1" wide
- Let rise until 2-3x larger--depending on dough temp, may take 1 to 3 hours
- Lightly mist loaves with cold water before placing in oven
- Bake in pre-heated 460°F oven, prepped with pan of steaming water (1-2 cups), for 10 minutes, rotating half-way thru, until very light golden brown

I'm finally getting 16" loaves that are about 2" high and 2.5-3" wide. They weigh about 5.3 ounces each, which is literally half of every recipe I've seen, and gives me a 6" cut loaf weighing 2 ounces...and that's exactly like the loaves in New Orleans!

Only remaining issue is crustiness--they have a great lightness and cotton-candy-like interior, but the outside could be a little crustier, flakier. I'm not sure if I should bake them hotter and quicker (say at 500° for 8 minutes) or cooler and longer (say 425° for 12-15 minutes). Any suggestions?



SouthernFried's picture

That looks delicious Mark. The texture looks just about perfect but the crust still seems a little too dark. As for the crunchy crust you might consider trying txfarmer's idea of using rice flour. Anyway, I'm going to try your recipe out today.