Whatever the reason, no one can make French bread like they do in New Orleans. There are stories of people bottling New Orleans tap water to take home with them so they can get the bread just right. The stories end with these people trying to figure out what else they can do to get that bread.
The crust is thin but incredibly crisp. Poke your finger through it, and you might just get a few scrapes.
The interior is fluffy--cottony even. Perfect for soaking up all that debris gravy poured on a roast beef po boy.
I have no intention of finding an exact match. Like seeing a procession of Mardi Gras Indians, I've decided both are too elusive.
But this year, I'm in search of a French bread recipe that will put me as close to the real deal as possible.
This doughy adventure will make The Bread Man (aka The Boy) very happy.
His birthday is this week. Bread will be had at every opportunity.
|Bread for me? Yeah buddy!|
|You're paying me in bread for this gig, right?|
Photo by David Simpson www.cajunzydecophotos.com/
The first French bread recipe in this feat didn't even come close to what I was after. The crust was not nearly crisp enough. The crumb was dense instead of fluffy.
But it was good bread all the same.
New Orleans French Bread is formed into loaves that are about 3 feet long for maximum po boy making. This recipe makes 2 small loaves, which is easier to manage in a non-commercial oven.
See that big hole near the top? When I was little, I was told that's where the baker slept. I didn't appreciate the baker napping in my food. I hope he isn't a drooly sleeper.
Happy Birthday to the most awesome, funniest boy I know.
adapted from Taste of Home
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4-1/2 to 5 cups bread flour
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar and stir. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the yeast mixture is foamy.
Add the salt and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Shape into two 12-in.-long loaves.
Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450. Place a pan of water in the oven to create steam.
With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf.
Bake at 450° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
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