This past weekend, the mood to bake struck me. I wanted to try something new, but I also realized that we needed bread for the week. So I decided to try Pain de Mie, or French Sandwich Bread. Turns out, that’s a fancy way to say ‘white bread’. So it’s not the most exciting loaf of bread, but it is tasty and it’s a good practical recipe to have. Also, if you’re a type of person who likes an opportunity to buy new pans, this recipe is a perfectly good excuse to invest in a Pullman loaf pan, if you’re so inclined.
Pain de Mie
- 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons or 200 grams of whole milk, scalded and cooled
- 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon or 100 grams of room temperature tap water, about 75 degrees
- 2 1/4 teaspoons or 7 grams of yeast
- 1 tablespoon or 14 grams of sugar
- 3 1/2 cups or 470 grams bread flour
- 2 1/2 tablespoons or 40 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 teaspoons or 9 grams fine sea salt
- One 9 x 4 x 4 inch Pullman loaf pan OR one 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan, brushed with soft butter and sprayed with nonstick spray
mis en place, another example of how things sound fancier in French. I put all the ingredients into separate bowls before I started.
1. Whisk water and yeast together, then whisk in the cooled milk and sugar.
2. Stir flour into the liquid, and continue mixing until no dry flour is visible. Distribute the flour in 8 or 10 pieces on the dough.
3. Mix the dough on the lowest speed for 2 minutes. Stop and let the dough rest for 15 minutes. I still don’t have a stand mixer, so I kneaded the dough for about 5 minutes, until I felt like all the butter was mixed in thoroughly.
4. Sprinkle in the salt and beat the dough on medium speed until it is smooth and elastic. I kneaded for about 10 minutes, and then realized I’d forgotten the salt, and so I added it, and kneaded for about 5 minutes more until I felt sure the salt was evenly distributed.
Here’s my dough after kneading:
5. Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl, turn it over so the top is oiled, let it rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Then after rising:
6. Scrape the dough to a floured work surface. Flatten to a disk, fold the sides in to overlap at the middle, and roll towards you. Flatten and repeat. Place the dough back in the bowl and wait another 30 – 45 minutes until it is fully doubled in bulk.
7. Invert the dough to a floured work surface. Divide it in half. One piece at a time, pull the dough to a rough rectangle and tightly roll it from the farthest long end toward you, jelly roll style, pinching the end of the dough to seal. Leave the pieces of the dough seam side up, let rest for 20 minutes.
Divided in half:
Attempts at rolling the dough – not very pretty:
8. To form the loaf, place both pieces 1/4 of an inch away from each other. Grasp each end and twist them together. Invert the dough seam side down into the prepared pan. Slide the cover of the pan about 2/3 of the way across the pan. Let it proof until it is about 1/2 of an inch away from the top of the pan.
Here’s how I twisted the two rolls of dough together. It ended up being too long for the pan, so I kind of had to push it together and squish it into the pan.
Now, we don’t have a Pullman loaf. We have a regular pan, and so Evan suggested that we put a sheet pan on top of that pan, to approximate a Pullman pan. This idea worked…sort of. We forgot to take pictures, so imagine a sheet pan sitting on top of a small loaf pan, slightly teetering.
9. Slide the pan closed and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the pan in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 375, and bake for 25 minutes. Then carefully slide the cover off the pan and bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the internal temp is 200 degrees.
When we went to open the oven and take the baking sheet off, we realized that we hadn’t weighed it down, and the dough has risen in the oven while baking, and had pushed the baking sheet upwards – but only on one side. So instead of having the perfectly square shaped loaf that a Pullman pan would have created, we had a loaf of bread with one end higher than the other. Shaping loaves of bread before baking is really on my list of things to keep practicing.
Kind of like a ski jump, right?
10. Remove the loaf from the pan and let it cool on a rack.
This loaf baked to a really nice golden color:
So even though this bread was slightly oddly shaped, it was still pretty good. It made perfect sandwich bread – it had a nice, delicate crumb and a subtle flavor. It also made good toast, which you all know is important to me. As far as sandwich breads go, though, I still prefer the golden sandwich bread I made a few weeks ago. That bread was sweeter and a little sturdier. But, I still recommend this one, too!
Stay tuned for our first (mis)adventures in alternative flours….