Bahn mi at home, part 2

Sorry if I left you hanging after last week’s “Bahn mi at home, part 1” post.  I intended to follow it up with a triumph of home-baked Vietnamese style baguettes.  An epic failure ensued….after scouring the internet & my cookbook collection for a suitable recipe, I tried out Alford & Duguid’s recipe from “Home Baking”.  It calls for rice flour, cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and baking powder, so I thought that a lofty, tender, crisp baguette might result.  The popular wisdom on Vietnamese baguettes credits rice flour for the light, feathery texture; I hunted down some rice flour and got down to baking.

Boy, were the results disappointing.  I should have listened to the numerous comments on the Web indicating the recipe’s unsuitability.  The rice flour didn’t hydrate very well, the dough felt grainy, and the resulting baguettes were sorry-looking, with spotty, underbrowned exteriors and gummy, leaden interior.  The baked breads were so ugly I couldn’t stand to take a photo.  (Now, I can make a perfectly good traditional baguette, a tricky proposition on its own, so don’t go thinking it’s my lack of baking skills.)  After pondering this matter a bit more, I decided I potentially was pursuing the wrong goal:  I don’t want to reproduce a Saigon-style roll (as I’ve never been to Saigon, I don’t know what those taste like), I want to reproduce a New-Orleans-style Vietnamese-French bakery roll.

So I’m no closer to a Dong Phuong/Hi-Do/Chez Pierre roll made at home this week.  I’d love to see the process, from start to finish, at one of those bakeries.  Yet another reason for me to work on my Vietnamese language skills…guess I’ll have to stick to the 4/$1 bakery rolls for a bit longer.

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