I have added a new bread recipe to my Bread Machine Recipe Spreadsheet!
The last time I updated the spreadsheet (mentioned in the link above), it was 2014. Almost three years later, I have found a new worthy loaf.
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The French version of white sandwich bread, which I really encountered for the first time on our family trip to Europe a couple of years ago, is called pain de mie. The word mie means crumb, or it can mean the inside part of bread (the part that is not the crust); so this is "crumb-bread," bread that is almost all "inside."
It is white and tender, and makes square slices that are not very large. But even the store-bought kind is (as you would expect) superior to your average American white sandwich bread, even kinds from bakeries. It is made with milk and lots of butter, and all-purpose flour rather than bread flour, which produces a smooth, unsticky, and easy-to-handle dough. It is baked in a buttered, lidded pan that confines the oven-spring to make a square, dense loaf with a fine crumb.
I bought a 13" × 4" × 4" Pullman loaf pan with some Christmas money, especially for learning to make pain de mie. Here it is on Amazon. I paid $25 on sale.
And today I set about making my first loaf of pain de mie. My basic working recipe, for now, is adapted from this recipe at King Arthur Flour, with some attention to various recipes around the net for "Pullman bread."
Working Recipe: Pain de Mie for the Bread Machine
- 1 and 2/3 cups whole milk
- 6 Tbsp salted butter
- 2 and 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 4 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp bread machine yeast
- Additional butter for greasing the pan
Put all the ingredients in the order listed into the bread machine on the "Dough" cycle, so that it mixes, kneads, and rises twice.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter (don't spray) the inside surfaces and inner lid of a 13" × 4" × 4" aluminum Pullman loaf pan.
Transfer the completed dough to a nonstick cutting board. Press it gently into a 13" × 8" rectangle, then roll it up from the long end into a log. Place it seam side down into the loaf pan, with the ends of the log right up against the inside of the pan, and slide the cover almost all the way on. Allow to rise until the loaf is just below the lip of the pan, and the pan is at least 3/4 full, 45 minutes to an hour -- or longer in a cool kitchen.
Close the pan all the way and bake 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, remove the lid, and allow the bread to bake for an additional 20 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 190° F.
Remove from the oven, turn immediately out of the pan onto a rack, and cool completely before slicing.
The bread had a buttery, almost flaky-thin crust that reminded me of a croissant, and sliced easily into thin and sturdy slices. We spread butter on it and ate it still a little warm -- I admit, our impatience left the center a bit unstable and soft, still steaming -- and it was delicious and dense. I expect it will make marvelous grilled-cheese sandwiches and buttered toast. But to find out, we will have to wait for the next loaf.
I'll be tweaking this recipe over the next few weeks, until I settle on a version worthy of a new printed edition of the spreadsheet. The first thing I may try is increasing the yeast a bit to speed up the rise. The second thing I may try is leaving the lid on the pan for longer in the hopes of getting a truly square, evenly browned loaf.