Okay, we’re just putting it out there before we even describe it….
This bread is a near impossible feat for gluteny bakers nationwide, despite millions (literally) of attempts in home and commercial kitchens and super-experienced experimenters – so when Naomi was asked for this as part of her Whatcha Want Wednesday Recipe Request, she knew this wasn’t going to be an easy task. However we’ve come as close as you will this side of heaven.
Leidenheimer’s bread is the most famous bread of New Orleans -a literal legend comprising a shatteringly crisp crust with a super soft, pillowy center (no chew to this bread!), about 4 inches wide by 3″ long and made fresh (sometimes delivered two or three times a day!) for the famous sandwiches of the city.
Hours of baking, tons of experimentation, and lots of failures later, Naomi determined that the very best bread recipe for making this is, surprisingly, the sourdough she already developed (with a tweak or two).
If you want even a measure of success you’ll need to follow our instructions absolutely perfectly as well as invest in one or more baguette bread cloches, shaping the dough into two baguettes 3 inches wide by 30 inches long by 1 1/2 inches high and 20 ounces in weight. Cut into 6 inch lengths you’ll get just about the right weight of bread, and if you’ve been careful to obey everything (and the stars align just right!) you’ll get a bread that you’ll be proud to call Po Boy bread, even if it’s not an absolutely perfect clone. If you’re not so particular or just hate to buy extra pans – use the entire amount of dough in once cloche, and make a bigger baguette!
Note you should make this bread so that it is ready (baked and cooled) no earlier than 4 hours before serving, or the texture will not be right.
4 c (16oz – 1 lb – or 454g) Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
1 c Sourdough Starter (use a liquid measuring cup)
2 1/4 c lukewarm water
2 tsp sugar
3 tsp oil
1 tsp salt
In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the Better Batter Gluten Free Flour, Sourdough Starter, water, sugar, oil and salt. Blend on high speed for 4 minutes, or until completely combined – the texture will be between the texture of a very soft cookie dough and a drop biscuit dough.
Grease your oblong bread cloche(s) and using floured hands place the sourdough within the container(s) dividing for two baguettes and keeping together for one larger loaf. Rinse hands well. Using wet hands, smooth and shape the dough until:
1) for proper baguettes: With wet hands, smooth and shape (imagine working with it like clay on a potters whel) into a shape 30 inches long by 3 inches wide by 3/4 inch thick. Using wet hands, smooth the top again to create a domed appearance. Repeat. Take a very sharp, wet knife and create a slash design in the top of the dough, by cutting three 1/4 inch deep slashes across the top of the dough. Repeat with other baguette.
2) for a single loaf: Place all dough in the cloche and with wet hands smooth and shape until it completely fills the bottom of the bread cloche. Taking wet hands create a divot between the edge of the pan and the dough that reaches all the way to the floor of the pan – this will have the effect of forcing the dough up into a more domed shape. Using wet hands, smooth the top again to create a domed appearance.
Once you have followed shaping instructions:
Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with water and place in a warm place (about 100 degrees), covered with the cloche lid, for 30 minutes to an hour, while you heat the oven.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. (make sure you cloche can withstand high heat!)
Place covered cloche into the hot oven. Bake for 10 minute for baguettes and 30 minutes for one loaf.
Remove the lid(s) and continue to bake for another 10 or 30 minutes, or until the crust is very golden and the loaf sounds hollow when you rap it with your knuckles.
The interior of the bread should be around 200 degrees, if you’re so inclined to measure!
Remove immediately from the pan or cloche to a rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes but preferably until completely cool before slicing. You will notice crackling sounds coming from the bread. Success!!!
Use this in it’s round form to make muffaletta sammys by using a round cloche or enameled dutch oven.