New Orleans French Bread …served at fine dining establishments and hole-in-the-wall poboy spots… is crispy on the outside and soft as air on the inside. For home, I love the version that the local grocery store, Robert’s (pronounced Roe-bears), makes. Leidenheimer’s bakery is famous for their version. Driving by their bakery when they are baking can cause you to swoon in delight. It is that good!
Should one even attempt to make this delicacy at home? Can it be done? For help, I turned to Julia Child, the grand dame of French cooking. According to her, in the US, we don’t allow our bread to rise long enough to develop an interesting flavor and character. She contends that French bread making should take a minimum of 7 hours. It is basically the same recipe as any other French bread recipe, but the rising times are at lower temperatures and last longer. Instead of doubling the volume on the first rise, we give it time to triple.
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Below is her basic recipe with my adaptation of the instructions. She says to do this on a dry day – as if that ever happens in New Orleans! Maybe, that makes a difference. Humidity is just part of life around here, so we have to adapt. New Orleans is supposed to be the city that care forgot; so, I’ll slow down and give it a try.
First the ingredients:
That’s it. Very simple ingredients to make very good food. Take a day, and see if you don’t agree it is worth the time. Of course, most of the time is passive – while the dough is rising. You can even stop and put the dough in the refrigerator between any of the risings and pick it up the next day or so. Just don’t let it go past a couple of days.
For the recipe below, I actually added a bit of rosemary and shaped it into round loaves. Delicious!