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pain de mie

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French sandwich loaf

The best thing – and pretty much the ONLY good thing – about a supermarket sliced loaf is that it’s so perfectly square. Gloopy. Soggy in minutes. Tasteless. Goes mouldy in a matter of days. Nothing to write home about, but it’s beautifully square, you can fill it, cut it on the diagonal and package into those idiotic triangular plastic boxes that only ever contribute to the mountains of non-degradable rubbish that the first world produce.

Ah well. I can now make that fantastically square loaf, with soft crumb, pain de mie in other (more sophisticated) words and with taste to boot.

I got myself a Pullman tin.

Simple – isn’t it? You contain a loaf in a closed tin, don’t let it rise up sky high, crack and spill, muffinwise, over the rim. The lid slides on and hey presto! the dough is disciplined to a very, very square shape. None of the bursting out of the mould tricks, thank you very much*.

This is fantastic bread by the way, tasty, even more so by replacing all-white with a little wholemeal flour in the mix (we’ve been eating white-bread-white-bread-challah-white-bread for the last few weeks… not good for your gut is it?) and using, of course, fresh yeast which – okay, I can’t prove it, but I’m a staunch believer – does make a difference to the rise and the taste.

The source of the recipe: Bakery Bits blog.

*well mine did. Must have been rebellious, belligerent and radical type. It crawled from under the lid and hung onto the short end, like a huge teardrop saying: ‘why oh why do you want to lock me up like that?’ Had to slice it off. And devour warm.

pain de mie

Tags: bread, french

INGREDIENTS

  • 150g water at room temperature
  • 25g fresh or 10g fast action yeast
  • 300g whole milk
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 150g wholemeal flour
  • 525g strong white bread flour
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 60g unsalted butter

METHOD

Bring the milk just about to the boiling point (you can do it in a microwave), leave to cool to the body temperature. Whisk the water and yeast together in a large bowl or in a standing mixer. Add the cooled milk and sugar and whisk it into the water and yeast mixture.

Add the flour to the liquid and stir in using a spatula. Scrape the side of the bowl and continue mixing until no dry flour remains visible. Distribute the butter in 8 or 10 pieces on the dough.

Beat with an electric mixer or in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment for a couple of minutes. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Sprinkle in the salt and beat the dough on medium speed until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the dough into an oiled bowl, turn it over so that the top is oiled, and let the dough prove until it is almost doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and flatten to a disc. Fold the two sides in to overlap at the middle, then roll the top towards you all the way to the end. Turn it over, flatten and repeat.

Folding dough

Return the dough to the bowl smooth (bottom) side up and let it rise until fully doubled, 30–45 minutes longer, depending on the room temperature.

In the meantime prepare a 13” Pullman tin or a 13” ordinary loaf tin by buttering it thoroughly, including the lid, and spraying or brushing with vegetable oil.

Turn the dough out to a floured work surface and 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 towards you, swiss roll-style, pinching the end of the dough to seal. Leave the pieces of dough on the work surface seam side up and cover loosely with a cloth or oiled clingfilm. Let it rest for 20 minutes.

Folding dough for sandwich loaf

To form the loaf, place both pieces of dough 5mm away from each other on a floured work surface. Grasping one of the short ends with each hand, twist the dough in opposite directions to make an interlocked spiral.

Slide both hands, palms upward, under the twisted dough and invert it, seam side down, into the prepared tin.

Pain de mie prepared for proving

If using the Pullman tin, slide the cover about 2/3 of the way across the top of the tin. If in an ordinary tin, place it in an inflated large plastic bag (just blow into it and tie the ends!). Let the loaf proof until it is about 2.5cm away from the top of the tin.

Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.

Once the dough has risen so that it is only 1cm away from the top of the tin, slide the Pullman cover closed and/or place the tin in the oven. Turn down the temperature to 190C/375F/gas mark 5 and bake for 25 minutes in the Pullman tin, then slide the lid off and continue for another 10–15 minutes. In an ordinary loaf tin, just bake for 50 minutes, turning the tin around once in the middle of the baking time.

Remove the loaf from the oven and turn it onto a rack to cool. Wrap in cling film and keep at room temperature if using the same day or double wrap and freeze for longer storage.

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