2X Copycat of French Bread Pizza
Way back, in 2019, I was writing up my trilogy on pizza, and the October 9 issue of the San Juan Record, concerned, not just Sicilian, but French bread style.
Even then, the bread labeled, in the local markets, as French bread, was, in fact, just plain, soft, wide loaves of white bread. But hey, you have to work with what you have, or make it yourself, right?
To make a true French bread pizza, you have to use a baguette which translates to “wand” or “baton”. Now according to culinary sites, there are four origins to this bread.
#1 – in the 19th century, it was brought to Paris by an Austrian officer, turned baker, August Zang. He also created pain viennois (a sweet bread filled with cheese, jam or chocolate) and the croissant.
#2 - 1920 French law prohibited bakers from working between 10pm to 4am (strange I know, but it’s the French, so…), so baguettes could be prepared and baked within 3 hours, and during working hours.
#3 - Napoleon Bonaparte ordered local bakers to create this bread for his soldiers, as it was easier to carry in their packs than large round loaves.
#4 – management of the Parisian metro asked local bakers to make a bread that was easy to tear with the hands.
Why? Workers, using the metro, would bring knives, to cut apart hard loaves of bread to eat, on the way to work. With everyone carrying a knife, well, violence would break out on nearly a daily basis.
Easier bread to tear with hands, meant knives could be banned on the metro, since they were no longer necessary for eating the bread.
Most culinary historians lean towards origins #1 and #2, since French law also dictates that baguettes must be made with only flour, salt, water, and yeast; and must be between 2-3 feet long, and 2 inches wide.
Which now makes me wonder, “Did the creators of Star Wars see two people dueling with baguettes, and light sabers were born?”
Now to Panera aka St. Louis Bread Company, founded in 1987, Kirkwood, Missouri, and their newest edition to the menu, Toasted Baguette Sandwiches.
The first commercial I saw was of a pepperoni pizza style, extremely similar to French bread pizza, like Stouffer’s, but both sides of the bread placed together.
However, the “baguettes” they use are only one foot in length, yet still 2 inches wide; so, a baby baguette that still needs to reach its maturity?
The point is though, that Panera was making a copycat version of a Stouffer’s frozen item.
…and there I was, at Blue Mountain Foods, and what did I find in the artisan bread display? Full Circle Market brand, take and bake, twin set of baguettes, and this is a very tasty product indeed.
At 400F, for 10-15 minutes, the outer crust becomes crisperty-crunchity; smear butter on the hot and soft inside, and it is quite easy to eat a complete loaf for a meal. Ahem, yes, I am speaking from experience, and not ashamed of it.
But here was the question, could I create a copycat version of Panera’s Pepperoni Mozzarella Melt? Heh, most of you know that the answer is definitely, “Of course I can!”
Setting the oven to preheat at 400F, I split a baguette, lengthwise, down the middle. First a good coating of homemade pizza sauce, getting as close to the edges as possible. Second, a generous helping of shredded mozzarella cheese. Third, sliced pepperoni from end to end, but only on one side of the split loaf.
Now while a plain loaf would take 10-15 minutes to bake, with the toppings, it took almost 20 minutes for the cheese to fully melt, and the pepperoni to develop a crispiness around the edges (how we like it).
The cheese only side placed on the pepperoni layered side, and there it was, the pepperoni mozzarella melt, without having to go to Panera to purchase it (and a lot cheaper to make too).
The taste was fantastic, especially being homemade with love and passion; alright, and wanting to quiet a rumbling stomach.
Moral to this entire story? If you want something badly enough, but cannot purchase it outright, then make a copycat version…period!
This is also a great way for families to get together, and have fun learning to make favorite restaurant foods.
Not only is cooking or baking learned, but accounting measures such as cost and budgeting.
Education via eating, who knew!