NOLA-Style French Bread Rolls

French bread in New Orleans has developed its own light, crispy crust and tender, almost frothy interior. The addition of a bit of olive oil and a wet dough make the crumb very tender and more close-grained than a traditional baguette. Happily, the texture is ideal for soaking up all the wonderful flavors in a po' boy, the distinctive sandwich of the city.
Prep
2 hrs 30 mins
Bake
30 to 35 mins
Total
3 hrs
Yield
4 loaves, 8 sandwich servings
NOLA-Style French Bread Rolls

Instructions

  1. Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar, stir, sprinkle with the yeast, and allow to sit for 15 minutes, until frothy and bubbling.
  2. Add the remaining tablespoon of sugar, olive oil, 5 cups flour, and salt. Use a spatula to bring the ingredients together into a shaggy dough.
  3. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with a dough hook, and mix the dough at medium speed for 8 minutes. The dough should form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour, a few tablespoons at a time, if the dough seems too sticky.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a minute or two.
  5. Lightly coat the mixing bowl with cooking spray or oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a draft-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  6. After the first rise, deflate the dough and divide it into four equal pieces. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, then shape each piece into a ball and cover with greased plastic wrap, while you prepare a clean, lightly floured (or lightly greased) work surface. The plastic wrap will keep any waiting dough soft and moist as you shape the loaves.
  7. Roll each piece of dough into a 16" x 3" log. Place on two parchment-lined baking sheets, putting two on each pan. Flatten the logs slightly; they should be a bit less round than a typical baguette, with more interior surface area for sandwich fillings. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let them rise for 1 hour.
  8. While the loaves are rising, place racks in the center and upper third of your oven and preheat to 375°F.
  9. Place the risen loaves in the oven and bake them for 30 minutes, or until they're deep golden brown. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through the baking time (top to bottom, bottom to top). Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a rack before using it to make sandwiches.
  10. Yield: 4 loaves.