Pain de Mie is an enriched sandwich bread baked in a lidded Pullman pan, so the final loaf is square. This isn't just any sandwich bread—the crumb is firm and reminiscent of pound cake, while the crust is intended to be soft. It's great for cold sandwiches but extra luscious when toasted or used for any type of grilled or pressed sandwich.
Yield: 1 Pullman loaf
Prefermented flour: 0% (this is a "straight" dough—one that doesn't contain a preferment)
Wood-fired oven temperature: 375 to 450 degrees F (191 – 232 degrees C). The temperature of your wood-fired oven is a little less crucial for Pain de Mie and its sister, Cinnamon Spiral Pain de Mie, than for hearth breads. The pan protects the loaves, so it can go into an oven as hot as 450 degrees F. If you bake that hot, however, you may want to place the Pullman pan on an inverted sheet pan after 15 to 20 minutes to prevent the bottom crust from getting too thick and hard. You shouldn't load this big loaf below 350 degrees F (177 degrees C), though—lower temperatures won't give the oven spring necessary for the dough to fill out the pan completely. If you do bake at the lower end of this range, you likely won't need the inverted sheet pan. After 20 to 30 minutes, remove the lid from the pan and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Check the sidewalls of the loaf. They should be solid and golden brown. If they aren't, invert the pan and let the Pain de Mie slide out onto a sheet pan. Bake for an extra 5 minutes or until the sidewalls have enough structure to hold up the weight of the loaf.
Home oven: Bake at 450 degrees F (232 degrees C) for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid from the pan and bake for another 10 minutes. Check the sidewalls of the loaf. They should be solid and golden brown. If they aren't, invert the pan and let the Pain de Mie slide out onto a sheet pan. Bake for an extra 5 minutes or until the sidewalls have enough structure to hold up the weight of the loaf.
1/2 cup butter
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. dry milk solids
1 1/2 tsp. instant active yeast
1⅔ cup water
Method of Preparation:
Desired dough temperature: 76 degrees F (24 degrees C).
Mixing: Pain de Mie is best made with a mixer.
1. Remove the butter from the fridge and pound it soft with a rolling pin. The butter will be worked into the dough through the action of the mixer on medium speed. Adding melted or very soft butter will make your dough greasy. You won't need to strike it more than 10 or 12 times. Make sure it can take the impression of your finger.
2. Combine all of the ingredients except the butter in the bowl of a mixer. Mix on slow speed for 4 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium, add half the softened butter, and mix for 1 minute. Add the remaining softened butter and mix for an additional 5 minutes. All the butter should have disappeared into the dough, creating suppleness. Cover and let the dough ferment for 1 1/2 hours, folding once after 45 minutes.
3. Spray a 13" Pullman pan with non-stick spray.
4. Carefully turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently de-gas the dough as you pat it into a rectangular shape. Divide the rectangle roughly in half. (It's okay if the two pieces aren't exactly the same weight—they will be twisted together and placed into the same pan.) Shape each piece into a baguette-like rope about 20" long. Lightly twist the ropes together and place in the Pullman pan.
5. Put the lid on the pan, but leave it open an inch or two so you can check the progress of the dough as it proofs. The dough will require 1 to 1 1/2 hours to achieve full volume. It's ready to bake when the top surface of the dough is about 1/2" below the lid of the pan. Close the lid completely before baking.
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