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Pain de Mie (Pullman’s loaf)



On one of our Baker’s group on WhatsApp someone made a Pain de Mie (Pullman’s loaf) which for some reason caught my fancy, probably because I never baked a loaf of bread.


Pain de mie is a soft white or brown sliced bread in French. ‘Pain’ means bread and ‘(de) la mie’ refers to the soft part of the bread. In English, pain de mie is similar to a Pullman loaf or regular sandwich bread.


This simple, easy and effortless recipe for Pullman sandwich bread makes a light and fluffy loaf of bread with perfect four square corners, delicate soft texture, soft crumb and delicious flavor that melts in the mouth.  I didn’t quite get the perfect four corners but I did get the delicate soft texture and loads of flavor. For a first attempt it was perfect!



Here is the recipe with substitutes in brackets if you are lactose intolerant.


In red you will find instructions, which I encourage you to follow strictly. Baking is a science. Don’t be overwhelmed if this is your first time, you will get there slowly but surely.


In blue I have put together some questions you might have. Hope it helps.

This recipe will make one 13 x 4 x 4 loaf or two 7 x 4 x 4 loaves.


Collect it:


· 250 ml warm milk (or almond milk or any nut milk)

· 50 gms butter (40 ml oil)

· 1 large Egg + 1 egg for an egg wash which is optional

· 2 1/4 tsp Instant yeast

· 1 tbsp Sugar

· 1 1/2 tsp Salt

· 440 gms Maida/All purpose flour

· 128 gms Maida/All purpose flour for kneading


Make it:


For accuracy use a weight measure for the ingredients because every cup of flour can weigh differently depending on how you fill it. Measure all ingredients ahead of time so you don’t forget anything at the last minute.


The milk must be warm (not hot). Your finger should be able to tolerate the heat. If the milk is too hot, the yeast will commit suicide. On the other hand, if the milk is too cold it will not activate the yeast.


Prep the Yeast: Measure out 1/4 cup milk. Set the remaining aside. To this 1/4 cup milk add yeast and sugar. Stir and set aside to foam for 5-10 minutes.


Sugar helps the yeast to rise to the occasion as it were.  So it is important to add sugar which will activate or feed the yeast.  


If after five minutes the mixture does not froth, discard and start again. Do not proceed if you do not get the froth. You will have to check the temperature of the water or the expiry of the yeast. Start all over again.


To the remaining milk, add egg and give it a good whisk and set aside.


Prepare Dough:


I prefer kneading the dough by hand. You could use a flour mixer.


In a bowl {if you wish you can use the kitchen table top}, add flour, mix in the salt, yeast mixture and milk mixture {the one with the egg}. Keep salt away from yeast as it can kill the yeast. I like to combine it with the flour then add it to the yeast mixture. 


Knead the dough till all the flour incorporated.


Once all the dough is brought together, continue to knead the dough for seven minutes until smooth. To get soft bread, kneading is very important. I set a timer and kneaded the dough for a good ten minutes.


The dough will be soft and sticky. A soft loose well-hydrated dough is not necessarily a bad thing, it often will give you soft fluffy bread so don’t be tempted to add more flour than mentioned in the recipe.


Add the soft room temperature butter. Knead again for 7 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic but still soft. Kneading is the key to making good bread. While kneading by hand can be therapeutic using a stand mixer is easier and quicker. You should be able to stretch the dough without it falling apart.


Prove Dough (1st rise)


Lightly flour the surface and roll the dough into a smooth ball. I used just a dusting. Flour dries up the dough so please use sparingly.


Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap / damp cloth. Leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in volume. Leave the dough at room temperature to rise until double in volume. While not recommended when in haste you can place it in a warm (not hot) oven this will expedite the rise. It took me three hours to get to this stage.


Shape the Loaf


If you have a weighing scale at home, place a plate on it. Once the dough has double in volume invert on to the plate and weight out the dough. Divide it in two parts to make two loaves. If, however, you do not have a weighing scale, roughly divide the dough in two parts.


Start to roll like a jelly roll. Fold from top to the center then again once more towards the end. Pinch the seams together. Place into an oiled/buttered Pullman loaf pan seam side down.


Prove Loaf (2nd rise)


Using a ruler, mark two inches from the top with a pencil, just a light mark so you know when to stop the proving process and begin baking. Cover loaf pan with plastic wrap.


Let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes until almost 2 inches from the top rim of the loaf pan. This step again took me 2 hours.

Once you see your dough is almost halfway up the sides – preheat the oven to 190 C / 380 F for at least 10 minutes, nothing less. Always preheat the oven for at least 10 minutes before you place bread in or the low temperature will spread the dough too much.


Bake the Loaf


At this point, whisk an egg yolk with a little of the egg white and it will give you a nice colour. Give the top of the loaves a nice egg wash. If you do not want to use the egg wash follow the steps below.


Cover the loaf pan with its lid. Place the loaf pan on the center rack in the hot oven. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. If you have not used the egg wash, after twenty five minutes, open the lid and let the loaf cook without the lid for five minutes. The top of the loaf will be browned.

The bread is done – when you tap the bottom of your loaf and you will hear a hollow sound.


Partially open the lid and let cool for 10 minutes – before you remove and let cool completely.


Always let bread rest for at least an hour before you cut – this is the hardest part!!


POSSIBLE QUESTIONS:


How long does this white sandwich bread last?

If stored properly this white bread will stay for 4 to 5 days at room temperature. It can be frozen for a month or more too. Never store bread in the fridge as it dries out.


Can I make this Eggless? 

Yes, you can. Just omit the egg in the recipe. You may need 1/2 to 3/4 cup less flour in the recipe. Everything else remains the same.


I don’t have a Pullman bread pan. Can I still bake it in a loaf pan? 

Yes. A Pullman bread pan is a loaf pan with straight sides and a lid. So, when you bake it you have four right angles unlike traditional sandwich bread with a dome. While this recipe is especially calculated for a Pullman loaf pan you can definitely bake it in a regular sandwich loaf pan.


Can I make a Pullman loaf pan? 

Ideally, it works best to buy a pan but if you want you can cover the top of a regular loaf pan firmly with foil. Of course, you will have a flat top but the rest of the corners will still be the shape of the original pan. So while not perfect it will be a squarish loaf. 


Can I use half white flour for this sandwich bread recipe?

Yes, with a few tweaks. Bread from white wheat flour will be softer in texture than whole wheat bread and needs a little less water.


What can I do with leftover white sandwich bread?

These are great to use in French toast as well as toasted or grilled sandwiches. Any hard leftover bread can be pulsed in the food processor and used to make breadcrumbs to coat cutlets or breaded crispy chicken, nuggets.


What is the best Pullman Bread Pan?

 The most important thing to look for is that the lid will work after a few uses.  The advantage of buying a Pullman pan is that you can use it with or without the lid for regular sandwich bread.

Can I bake this like a regular sandwich bread?

Absolutely. You can bake this in a standard loaf pan. The top will be rounded not square.

#Bread

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