The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Classic French loaf bread / NOLA PoBoy bread

Wholywheat's picture

Classic French loaf bread / NOLA PoBoy bread



I really hope someone can help me.  I’ve read every post on this sight relating to French bread, PoBoy bread, thin crackly crust etc., so I’m hoping this post isn’t in vein.  I’ve really had no problem making most breads, but am banging my head against the wall on this one.  I plan to open a gourmet sandwich bistro, where I will mill flour on site and bake all sandwich breads daily, sandwiches from around the world and one of beer on the menu that I brew on site.  I’m not looking for free advice, I’ll pay or buy whatever necessary to overcome this obstacle.


I’ve been trying to make classic French loaf bread, specifically trying to copy the famous New Orleans style PoBoy bread, which has a super light interior, and a super thin crackly crust.  

The fallowing, are my ovens, preparations and material:


First, I always us a natural levaine, but have supplemented it with commercial yeast to limit the sour taste.  Young starter and other methods to keep low sour.


I have both a fire brick oven and Alto Shaam combi oven, with 1” stone hearths


For the combi, I’ve used 100% Steam 5 min, 30% 5 min both 50% fan, then completely vented with10-15 min dry heat @ 100% fan.  Done this with 375 and 400 temps.  I have also done major steam for only for 5 minutes then vent, 100% steam for 10 min. Etc.


Mixing1 1/2 - 2 speed 10-12 minutes KA mixer until window pain


Bulk at 85 degrees for double


I have both punched down - folded, and also punched down folded and rolled out, with same result.


Divide, rest, then shape and double


Brush water/starch, score and bake.


After bake, rest at 130 degrees proofer 30min to 1 hour


I have both cold proofed after shaping and 85 degree proof


I’ve used recipes specifically for PoBoy bread from New Orleans cook books, and have had the best result with the fallowing recipe, but the crust is still not thin and crackly.  It’s either thin and not crackly or too thick and is crackly.


365 g AP flour

120 g cake flour

360 g water

230 g starter 100% with 20% Rye - 80% AP

14 g powdered milk

12 g sugar

12 g butter

15 g salt

3 g yeast


79% hydration, I have also used 72%


2, 600 g loaves


I have used 100% AP,  and have done mixed AP with Bread flour at different percentages, also added rice four......


The result:


The interior is not light and fluffy, but moist with slight chew, and soft, so I have considered lower hydration.


I have no idea about the crust, other than to possible kneed the dough a bit longer and at the end, increase the speed to introduce air.  I have read that the more you knead, the thinner the crust, and obviously not to over heat or over kneed the dough.


Alto Shaam recommended using only convection, no steam at 400, but knowing everything I know about steam, I can’t even bring myself to try that.  As it is, the crust seems to brown too quickly, which is why I have lowered to oven temp, 50 - 100 degrees lower than provided recipes, with the understanding that convection is a standard drop of 25 degrees.


My assumption is that it’s a baking method, hydration or kneading thing.  I have a spiral mixer, but don’t use for small test batches.


I have thought about removing the stone hearths and using perforated baguette/loaf pans.  Stones are always heated to 425, but still don’t get the crust on the bottom crusty enough with such short bake times.


It’s a crazy notion, that I can go to Ralph’s and buy a piece of poop French bread that is closer to what I want than what I’ve been able to produce.



DanAyo's picture

Have you seen this?

That may not get you completely to your goal, but it may be a good start. Mariana is very knowledgeable.

Sounds like you are looking to reproduce Leidenheimer’s French Bread... Unfortunately, I have no experience baking it. I wouldn’t think they use sourdough in the bread. It taste yeasty to me. Are you sure they do?

Are you living in New Orleans? I am from Thibodaux?


Wholywheat's picture

Thanks Danny,

I did and replied earlier.  She’s the bomb!

Im sure they don’t use starter, but I always start with the use of a starter, mostly because I’m a health freak.  At least at this point, I believe I can adjust a starter and other methods, to get what ever end result I want, but will add commercial yeast to lessen the sour even more.