Jan 7, 2013

French Bread for The Bread Man

Some say it's the altitude (lack of).  The humidity (an abundance).  Some say it's the water, drawn from the Mississippi.  Some say the reason is more intangible.  Like a voodoo spell.

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.

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French Loaves
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.



Linking with these parties:
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The Chicken Chick
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 Hearth and Soul blog hop at Premeditated Leftovers
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14 comments:

  1. Awesome post! This has been on my to do list too. I saw Kelsey Nixon make french bread on her show Kelsey's Essentials. She put a baking sheet on the lower shelf and sometime in the baking process she threw in ice cubes. This helped make the crust. My oven is messed up right now. It bakes everything too dark. I need to get a thermometer to check it out before I try her recipe. I look forward to all your french bread post.

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  2. Oh my...that baby picture of the boy is so precious! And, of course I love that one of him attacking the carrots...too funny. I hope he has a great birthday.

    Cute story about the hole being where the baker slept. Never heard that one before. Your bread looks very fluffy. I bet it got gobbled up in no time.

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  3. I smiled reading this post. I could probably pay my son in bread too. French bread? My son would let the baker sleep right there in the middle, drool and all (smile).

    I never thought about that your state would indeed make some rocking French bread. The Parisians would be envious.

    Happy Birthday to your son! No doubt he is an awesome kid.

    Velva

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  4. This French bread looks so-o-o good! It is a hard thing to master. And "the boy" is adorable in all of the pics. Hope he has a very happy birthday!

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  5. Here is to the best birthdays of all, hopefully with a tummy full of warm homemade, hot and crusty French bread.
    Blessings to you and yours as you start this New Year...

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  6. Hi Michelle! I came to follow you and say thanks for leaving a comment at Diana Rambles. I host a weekly link party that starts Fridays at 8am! I'd love you to participate!

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  7. This bread looks soooo good, but them I'm a sucker for bread! Cute post!

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  8. They grow up to fast, enjoy every minute.
    Bread is my weakness, so even a bad bread is good to me. I will be watching for the winner of your journey. Thank you so much for celebrating TWO YEARS with FULL PLATE THURSDAY, I appreciate your visit!
    Come Back Soon
    Miz Helen

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  9. I love fresh baked bread! You are so right about the region having an impact on the taste/quality of yeast breads. Just look at San Francisco sourdough. They sell the crap out of the starter because you just can't replicate it. So glad you're able to use your bread as currency!

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  10. Love this recipe! I'm visiting from Not Your Ordinary Recipes, and am your new follower!

    I'd love if you'd visit back, too.

    ~LuAnne
    www.winterpastcooking.blogspot.com

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  11. Happy Birthday to you son! What cute photographs! Your bread looks wonderful - I love French bread :) Thank you for sharing the recipe with the Hearth and Soul hop.

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  12. Ha :) Your blog always makes me smile, Michelle! Your boy is so precious! I absolutely love homemade bread .... I've never thought about using it as currency :) lol. Thank you for sharing at All My Bloggy Friends last week. I look forward to seeing what you share this week :)

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  13. Your French bread looks great! Thanks for sharing your recipe with the Hearth and Soul Hop. I’ve pinned it to my Pinterest board.

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  14. French bread is on my list this year but a whole wheat one. It is amazingly hard for a simple bread. Loved hearing about your son - my bread man is my husband. Thanks for sharing on Thursdays Treasures.

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