Based on my recent trip to NOLA, my recollections of the po-boy bread, and some research online, here's what I've gleaned about the Leidenheimer recipe:
- Uses a sponge process, which is incorporated into the straight dough
- Use a proprietary time/temperature/humidity proof
- Produces a light, flaky, crisp crust, "one that crinkles as it cools into a distinctive 'alligator skin' pattern". Should shatter into small dust or flakes when bitten into.
- Crumb is cotton-candy like, spongy but dry, fluffy but small-holed (not wispy), very mild, neutral flavor.
- Crust color is very light golden, if not whitish.
Ingredients from their nutritional info:
- Yeast (2% or less)
- Soybean oil (2% or less)
- Salt (2% or less)
- Sugar (2% or less)
- Wheat Gluten (2% or less)
- Dough conditioners and yeast foods (which I won't include in my finished product) (2% or less)
Based on the texture of the crumb, I think it's safe to say it's not a high-hydration dough, I'm guessing no higher than about 65%, but probably closer to 60%. It's also likely a pretty lean dough.
Here's some info on the dough conditioners & yeast foods that Leidenheimer is using in their French bread (with approximate figures I gathered from the very helpful Lallemand web site):
- Calcium propionate - preservative/mold inhibitor, use level 0.2%, probably added to finished dough (not sponge)
- Ammonium sulfate - yeast nutrient, nitrogen source, use level 0.04%
- Calcium sulfate - pH regulator, raises pH, use level 0.1 - 0.6%
If they are boosting pH, it may mean the water they use is too soft, which suggests (not surprisingly) that water quality is key to consistent product.