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New Orleans Po-Boy Bread - it's all Eric's fault

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txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

New Orleans Po-Boy Bread - it's all Eric's fault

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Click here for my blog index.

Honestly, I do blame it on Eric. Firstly, he posted a mouth watering blog about his initial attempt at replicating the famous NO French bread (see here); then he emailed me and asked me to do futher investigation; just to make it final, he even fowarded me some links and pictures to get me started. After a few tries, my final version actually is not that different from Eric's original formula, with the following modification:

- To make crumb velvety soft
* Knead, knead, and knead, see this post for details. If your bread is too dense, too tough, knead more.
* Some enriching ingredients like sugar, powdered milk, and fat. However if there are too much enriching ingredients, the crust will become soft too. Eric's original formula provides a good balance.
* I used a combination of AP and Bread Flour. BF is there to ensure enough strength, so the bread can have a lot of volume, thus guarantee a soft mouthfeel, as well as some "bounciness". AP flour is used to add tenderness. You can certainly adjust the AP/BF ratio to get the crumb you like.

- To make crust very thin and crispy
* 10% of rice flour. I have made baguettes with rice flour before with very good and crispy crust, it does the same thig here.
* Bake with steam (Eric's version does that too).
* Brush the dough with liquid before baking. I tried different liquid with different results: cold water -> thin, crispy, probably the most "authentic" version; egg whites/corn starch+ water -> even crispier than water but thicker; olive oil -> still crispy but less crackly, very fragrant, my favorite
* Size matters. I tried to make them smaller, but the baking time ended up too short to create a very crackly crust. If the size is too big, crust would be baked too long , which means too thick. The size I am making below is smaller than Eric's original version, but still big enough to get the crust right.

New Orleans Po-Boy French Bread (adapted from Bernard Clayton's "New Complete Book of Breads")
Note: makes 2X400g loaves

Bread Flour , 225g
AP Flour, 150g
Rice Flour, 45g
Water, 300g
Instant yeast, 1.5t
Salt, 8g
Sugar, 10g
Powdered Milk, 5g
Butter, 10g, softened

1.Mix everything but butter, knead until gluten starts to form, add in butter, knead until pass windowpane test, see this post for details. Note that rice flour is pretty coarse, may interfere with gluten formation, so the kneading would take a while, and the windown pane would be a bit thick.

2. Bulk rise at room temp (75F) for 70min until more than doubled, S&F at min 50.
3. Divide into 2 parts, preshape and relax for 20min. For each dough, roll out to 14X6inch, get rid of all air bubbles, roll up, seal, roll out to 16inch in length.

4. Proof at room temp until double, 45min to 60min. Brush with water (or other luqid), score.

5. Bake at 425F for 20min with steam, lower to 375F, rotate baking sheet, and keep baking for another 20min. The last 5min with door cracked open.

 

Very crispy and crackly crust, crumbs everywhere when cut or torn

 

Crumb is velvety soft and shreddy, I could pull the inside out like this

 

I know the most popular Po-Boy sandwich is pulled pork/beef, but I love fried shrimp filling. This time I just rolled shrimps in bread crumb, then baked until done. Equally delicious.

Comments

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Is that yeast amount right; 1.5 Tablespoons?

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Should be teaspoon, I've changed it, thanks for pointing it out!

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Thanks.

Well done, by the way. They look delicious.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'm so glad you took the bait and took this bread up. As so often is the case, the bakers technique is 90% of the final product. I like what you did here with the rice flour addition. Your crust does seem thin and crispy.  Did you try a lower heat for a lighter crust color? I know you like a bold bake but I'm wondering if it come back a touch. Maybe reduce the sugar by a gram or two? It looks very good txfarmer. I figured you would be the perfect person to give it a try with all your recent success making soft crumb breads.

Thank you so much for working on this bread. There are lots of folks who have tried to create the perfect Po-Boy style breads and it's a tough one to duplicate. Oyster is my favorite. I'll give this a try soon and I hope some other N.O. fans will also.

Eric

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Hey Eric, I have your original blog/formula to thank for a good base recipe. For a lighter color I may bake a couple minutes less. I wouldn't cut back on sugar, might even double it next time for flavor. That might just be my Asian taste buds talking though - I am used to slightly sweeter soft breads, even for savory fillings.


I plan to make a sourdough version next, with slight adjustment on sugar/milk powder/etc., must try another filling too!

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Looks great txfarmer! Thanks for tackling this one. I appreciate the thoughtful analysis in your mods writeup. I'm looking forward to trying this recipe. 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thanks! Hope you'll like the result!

Syd's picture
Syd

Oh, that is a great crust and just when I was contemplating other breads I get distracted by this post. It happens all the time on this site.  I will be happily planning and researching my next bake when, wham... a post like this comes along and I get thrown off direction.  I need to concentrate and not be so easily swayed!  Perhaps it is because I am a Gemini.  (Not that I profess to know much about - or care for - that kind of thing but it's what friends have told me anyway)!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Ha, I often get sidetracked too. This one doesn't take a lot of time, so hopefully it will be a quick one to tackle.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

You nailed this one txfarmer, as far as I'm concerned. I had to make this one right away.

Although I have never had any real PO Boy bread, this is a great light, fluffy, crispy sandwich roll. Mine came out almost just like yours, sans the perfect scoring and shaping. They sang for 15 or 20 minutes after removing from the oven, and theres shards of the flakey crust all over the place after eating a sandwich. Even though I have to hand mix, the dough was just lovely. About the bounciest dough I've made yet. The loaves spring up nice and round, almost as if baked in a baguette pan. I made three 11" rolls. I must admit I've been a little leery of using rice flour, but it worked out great.

This ones a keeper for me. Thanks to you and Eric.

By the way, I also made a yeasted, buttermilk version of your soft rye sandwich loaf, and it to was great!

Excuse the poor pictures, as at the moment I only have an old, cheap web cam for pictures, but I just had to take some. They are not nearly as pale as they look here, but I like them just a little lighter than some.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Very nice! They look great, can't believe you made them so quickly!

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Lovely, Txfarmer! just the kind of bread i used to eat as a child.. No chemicals in this one, though.. just true bread..!

Wonderful crumb, and crust, as usual!!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thanks Mebake!

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Txfarmer! I noticed that you didn't use  hot water as specified in Eric's recipe (120°-130°F). I wonder if such a hot water gelatinizes a part of the flour and what influence it can have on the final crumb.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I have seen a lot of methods that uses hot water to soak part of flour, which does make the crumb softer. One example is the "汤种”(soup seed) method that's popular in Asia. HOWEVER, after many experiments, I think it's simply a shortcut to kneading. If you knead the dough to perfection, the crumb will be just as soft, even without the hot water. In addition, a dough that's kneaded well VS. a dough that's not kneaded well but uses a hot water soaker, the former will be soft AND have a larger volume and bouncy/fluffy mouth feel, the latter would be soft, but just that. Just my personal experience.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Txfarmer, specifically(brand), what do you use for scoring your dough?

Thanks.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Double edge shaving blade. Sometime on a stick, but I have lost the stick, so just a blade. Brand? Uh... Walmart or some other grocery stores? :P

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Thanks. That is what I use too. But not nearly as skilled as you.

Eternal Grain's picture
Eternal Grain

Your baguettes remind me of those soft and fluffy baguettes they sell at marketplaces. Of course, yours look and probably taste 100x better than the chemical laden baked sticks. I always wondered why they were labelled as baguettes when the so called baguettes looked more like sandwich bread in stick shape.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Ha, I refuse to all these "baguette". I have baguette formulas I stick to (here), and they are completely differently from these NO breads. Both are delicious, but different.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

txfarmer, I get total ingredient weights of 760g, so your loaves are closer to 380g each not 400g each, just to be picky ;)

planning to try it out this evening.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

You are correct, I admit I was giving a "rough" number. :)

cranbo's picture
cranbo

So I'm in the process of making this right now...got a few questions:

1. What is the feel of the dough you're going for? I used 100% bread flour (my plain vanilla store brand) in place of the AP+bread flour, and it was incredibly sticky while kneading; it was just a little beyond a batter!. Not a surprise to me, given the hydration is 71%. I added probably 1/3c. more flour to get it to come together, in a ball, and even with that, it didn't clear the sides of the bowl. Should the kneaded dough be tacky & not sticky? I kneaded it in my KA with the dough hook at speed #3 for about 17 minutes, got decent windowpane but not nearly as silky and smooth as the one in your photo. Still, the dough felt supple when I did the S&F on a lightly floured surface. 

2. Bulk rise at room temp (75F) for 70min until more than doubled, S&F at min 50. 

Am I correct to assume this means "bulk rise for 50min @ 75F, S&F, and continue to rise for 20 more minutes, until more than doubled (70 minutes total)"? My dough had almost doubled at 50min @ 75F (covered in a plastic bucket) before I did a S&F, and it took about 1 hr for it to double again. Can you clarify what you are going for here? 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

1. The dough starts out wet but should become silky after kneading. It should clear the bottom and sides fo the mixing bowl. I would suggest to autolyse for a while then knead. You can certainly add flour, but in my experience, a wetter dough leads to a softer/tender crumb, IF well kneaded.

2. If the inital volume is V after kneading, after 50min, it should nearly double (2V), after S&F (to redistribute yeast for a fuller bulk rise), it shouldn't go back to be V, should be 1.2-1.5V. Then after another 20-25min, it should become 2V again. If yours took another 1 hour to double again, it's not right. My guess is that the dough was not kneaded enough.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Thanks txfarmer. I think the autolyse would help, I will incorporate that step the next time (I didn't see it in your original recipe so I didn't do it); do you always autolyze your doughs?

Thanks for the volume clarification; I will try kneading longer. It did end up doubling, as I said, but it took an hour. When I did my S&F, I degassed substantially, and the volume was probably 1.2V. 

Still, it turned out very well. I like the buttery aroma and flavor in the crust. It was the most "shattery" crust that I've ever been able to achieve, although what I'm aiming for would be a little more "flakes" and a little less "dust", but this recipe is leading me in a better direction.  I'm wondering if shortening or lard in place of the butter would help contribute to that, assuming that the butter/shortening effects work similar to pie crust (butter = good flavor but "dusty", shortening = no/greasy flavor but flaky). 

Your instruction on the intensive knead have been invaluable, and have definitely increased my confidence with my KA and knead times. Historically I've worried about over-kneading but I think I'm realizing that's quite difficult to do with the KA. Now that I know I can knead for 15min at speed 3 without the dough breaking down, I am more willing to push knead times. Based on the hydration/stickiness issues I was having, I only had a rough windowpane at 13 minutes or so, I ran it for about 17-18 minutes total, and the windowpane was still not nearly as smooth as what you showed in your photos.  The crumb was very white, soft, light with a very mild flavor, I'm sure due to this intensive knead. 

So more learning, more testing, and thanks again for the great recipe!

cranbo's picture
cranbo

txfarmer, thinking about the wetness problem I had with the recipe suggests to me that you may have different results because you specified "bread flour" in your formula and not a specific brand & "model". 

Absorption rates can vary wildly among different kinds of flour, depending on gluten levels and other properties, so while your 71% hydration might be just right, my 71% hydration with different brands of flour may be much too wet. 

If you'd be willing to share, what kind of flours (bread and AP) do you usually use for this?

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

King Arthur BF and AP is what I use. BTW, I am "infamous" for liking wet dough, so you might indeed have to adjust hydration to be comfortable with the dough.

mrmambo's picture
mrmambo

txfarmer--wow! These look great; excellent work.

I've been struggling with this bread type off and on for about a year and still can't quite get it like Leidenheimer's in NOLA. The biggest issue is that theirs is about 1/2 as dense as what this recipe produces--I'm basing that on the calories, as one of their 6" loaves is about 2 ounces/56g and contains 150 calories:

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

The Clayton recipe we're using as a base and your variant are more like 300 calories and 85g for a 6" loaf. I've had limited success by being very careful in my proofing and shaping--maybe 1 time out of 5 it came close to the 1.5" height and 3" width of the real stuff with the Leidenheimer lightness, but it's been hard to duplicate.

Any thoughts?

mrmambo's picture
mrmambo

I did find this recipe online, which has given me the correct rise on occassion. I was going to work on the crustiness of the exterior, but wanted to get the rise and interior texture down first.

Here's an exterior shot; sorry--no interior and hard to judge exterior in this picture. BTW--I've noticed that po-boy loaves tend not to be split crusts; they have smooth tops.

Bánh Mì / Po-Boy Loaves

Makes (3) 16-inch baguettes

 

Ingredients:


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

  • 2.5 tsp active dry 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:

  1. three balls, cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. three batards. cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes
  3. three 16” baguettes, place on parchment, and let rise for 45 minutes.

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/

mrmambo's picture
mrmambo

And finally here's a shot of Leidenheimer's bread (fried chicken po-boy with white gravy...yum!). You can see how loose the crumb is; it's more air than bread! And the crust is relatively thin and crackly--it flakes, rather than shatters, and is easy to bite into.

Jg_hill's picture
Jg_hill

great recipe, thanks TXFARMER! This is the first time I've been able to get close to replicating the N.O. type French bread my family loves.

Just like cranbo, I had to add extra flour to get a ball to form in the mixer. Although the bread turned out quite well should I have not added the extra flour? The dough was very wet without the addition.

My primary questions is about crust thickness. I would prefer a thinner crust as the loaf was a little on the chewy side for po-boys. That didn't stop us from eating it ALL, however. :-) I used steam for the first 20 minutes and removed it for the second twenty. What should I do differently to get a less chewy crust. Would reducing the temp help?

jbaudo's picture
jbaudo

I have a cookbook ("The New Orleans Cookbook" by Rima and Richard Collin) with a recipe for New Orleans French bread and wanted to share a little bit from it.  First let me say that this cookbook is as authentic as they get.  I can't type the whole recipe because it takes up 2 1/2 pages but I will share some of it.  First off, the ingredients are different from what yall are using - they don't really enrich the bread at all. 

The recipe calls for yeast - 1 1/2 oz fresh compressed yeast or 3 packages active dry, 2 tspof sugar,  4 tsp salt, 1/2 water (for proofing the yeast and making a sponge), 5-6 cups bread flour, 1/2 tsp Arkady yeast food, 2 tsp crisco, 1 1/2 c warm water, and  1/3c cornmeal for dusting.  There's no milk or eggs or anything heavy like that.  They make a bit of a sponge to start but other than that the procedure for making the dough is pretty straight forward.  They add warm water and flour is 1/2 c increments to pull the dough together until the dough gets stiff, adding the last remaining cup of flour as needed during the kneading.   They do stress that the dough must be perfectly risen when baking - not overrisen or they won't be as light and puffy.  They  preheated an oven at 475 F with an iron skillet filled 2/3 of the way with water (left in the whole time during baking) on the bottom of the oven. (the skillet is in the oven during preheating). Before putting the loaves in the oven they are brushed with cold water.  Bake on middle rack. After 5 minutes of baking they are sprayed or brushed again with cold water.  Bake another 20 minutes until loaves are  brown and crisp.  Cool on cake racks.  To serve, heat in a 400 F oven for 5-6 mins.

I live about an hour away from New Orleans and love, love LOVE a poboy.  On a side note, if you do want to make a shrimp poboy (which I highly recommend!) please dredge the shrimp in cornmeal before frying (with Tony's seasoning or other awesome cajun seasoning blend - I have a good homemade recipe if you are interested) and NOT bread crumbs.  I have never ever eaten fried shrimp that way -  it just sounds wrong:)  Add shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and lots of mayo  and you've got the real deal.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

jbaudo wrote:
On a side note, if you do want to make a shrimp poboy (which I highly recommend!) please dredge the shrimp in cornmeal before frying (with Tony's seasoning or other awesome cajun seasoning blend - I have a good homemade recipe if you are interested) and NOT bread crumbs.  I have never ever eaten fried shrimp that way -  it just sounds wrong:)
It doesn't just sound wrong, it is wrong. :blech: Save the bread crumb and flour breading for chicken, veal and veggies.

All fish and shellfish should be breaded with cornmeal (plus a little salt and pepper). I do know of some who will use hominy grits, but I think hominy can over-power some of the more neutral flavored fish. For shellfish, of which I am not a great fan, additional seasoning is OK because of their stronger flavors. I prefer to simply use dried jalapeño flakes.

cheers,

gary (an old suthren curmudgeon)

Cinnamon Turtle's picture
Cinnamon Turtle

I've been lurking here at the fresh loaf for a long time, but this bread inspired me to finally sign up and comment. I've been trying to recreate NOLA French Brench forever with little success. While this isn't and exact replica of those delicious, nearly insubstantial, shattery breads. It is delicious and by far the closest I've come. I think the rice flour definitely made a difference in the crunch.

My first attempt did not come out exactly like the pictures. It think I need a new scale. It does well with ounces, but isn't sensitive enough in grams. Although, the instructions deny it, I've only been able to get the numbers to move in five gram increments. Consequently, my dough was too wet for proper shaping. It just lay in an approximately torpedo shaped puddle on the baking sheet and couldn't begin to be slashed. Still, it baked up nice and light with a lovely flaky crust. I will be using it for Bahn Mi today, and definitely trying it again soon. Thanks so much for sharing your super recipe!

CT

stephanienola's picture
stephanienola

Hi Txfarmer,

i don't know if people are still responding to this thread but I just had to say thanks! I'm a NOLA transplant in Brooklyn and just started breadmaking in an effort to recreate great French bread like Leidenheimers. I've only used a breadmaker because I was afraid of kneading. I'd attempted breadmaking years ago and made brick after brick so I thought having the bread maker do the kneading would do the trick. Wrong! In any event, this was my first attempt doing it all on my own and it came out great!!! Your advice on kneading was so helpful and now I feel like I've "gotten to know" the dough in a way I never would have with the bread maker. And I have awesome French bread! So thanks again. Off to the store to get some shrimp for po boys for dinner!

 

Stephanie

MaryVoss's picture
MaryVoss

What does S&F stand for?  Sorry if that sounds like a dumb question, I don't bake bread often. 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

S&F = stretch and fold