Monday, February 16, 2009

King Arthur Pain de Mie

Monday, February 16, 2009

I didn't get around to baking anything this weekend, but, fortunately, as a state employee I get President's Day off. Pondering what bread to bake next, I was looking through more whole grain breads when I said to myself, Hmmph. I want white bread. So I made really white bread. Not only does it have white flour, but it also has potato flour and milk and powdered milk. All manner of white things.
You can call this sandwich bread if you want. But you can also call it pain de mie , which sounds ever so much better and more hoity-toity than white sandwich bread. The recipe is from King Arthur's website, and I chose it because I had some potato flour that I've had for a while and is probably getting to the point where I should either use it up or throw it out. Before I started baking bread, I thought flour lasted forever, so I would have had no qualms about using 20-year old flour (not, I hasten to add, that the potato flour is anywhere close to that), but now I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing.
I had to do quite a bit of searching to find my old pain de mie pan. I got the pan used on eBay.com during the period that I was buying a lot of baking equipment. I remember balking at the purchase of a new pain de mie pan. They're quite expensive, and I figured that I'd never use it again, so I could only bring myself to spend a few dollars, plus shipping. I fell in love with it when it arrived--it's heavy and tall and looks very French.

This is an easy bread to mix up, except that my friend June put a curse on me. We went out for dinner on Saturday--June and I, and our husbands too--and at some point June asked me if the bread I made with the dough hook turned out grainier than the dough I kneaded by hand. I looked at her as if I didn't know what she was talking about (because I didn't), and said I had never noticed such a thing. And, I said, it doesn't make sense because the dough hook kneads more thoroughly than you can knead by hand. But this dough turned out to have little lumps in it. Because that's never happened before, I can only think that it's June's fault, and that she must have put a hex on me or my dough hook. At first I thought there were only a few little lumps, and I tried to carefully pick them out by hand, but then I saw that there were many. If I don't blame June, I blame the potato flour for forming what looked like little mashed potato lumps.

I love baking in this lidded loaf pan! The top presses down on the bread while it's baking, so it turns out almost square. I think that the idea is that the crumb becomes more compressed this way, which is why it's called pain de mie, which means bread of crumb, more or less. I grew up thinking it was called a Pullman loaf, which is not as French or romantic. I could look up why it's called that (because it was served on a Pullman car?), but I think I'll leave that for another time.
I was feeling a little insecure about this bread, because of the lumps and all, so I decided to make up for the lumps by taking its temperature so at least the bread's lumps would be the proper temperature.

The trouble with sticking the thermometer in the middle of the bread is that it leaves a hole. I don't like the idea of a hole in the middle of the bread, which is why I don't usually do it, and it turned out to be 190 degrees on the first testing, so it was a letdown anyway.
For a plain white loaf, this is seriously good bread. The little potato-y lumps that I was so concerned about disappeared in the baking, leaving nothing in their wake but a fine, delicate crumb. I didn't make sandwiches, but it's clear that this bread would be perfect for sandwiches, and even better for grilled sandwiches. It will probably make excellent toast, a hypothesis which I will test tomorrow morning. And yet...I have to admit that this plain white bread, good as it is, just doesn't have the complexity of the whole wheat bread which I've been dissing. The lesson seems to be--enjoy the bread you're eating now.

11 comments:

evil cake lady said...

I thought these loaves were called Pullman loaves, too...
Aha! The hippie bread is starting to grow on you! Soon you'll be eating bread made from ground-up sprouted seeds and grains like me. I'll see you on the commune.

Melinda said...

Isn't pain de mie the bread used by the French for Croque Monsieur? I believe I had that fact from Richard Bertinet.
That is so strange that you should have a post using potato flour. I just bought some yesterday. It is not a common flour here at all. I want to make something from RLB's book. I still have to round up the vital wheat gluten, for it yet. That must have been the recipe you got the potato flour for, way back when!
I bought a pain de mie pan ages ago and haven't used it. I was planning to use a a recipe of Peter
Reinhart's. Now I have two to choose from. It might take me another year to get round to making it still! I had to special order that pan too. I am very bad!

Poor June. I am sure she will toss and turn about hexing your bread.

Doughadear said...

This is a bread I have not tried yet and mostly because I don't have the pain de mei pan which I am resisting to buy because I am running out of space for all the bread baking gadgetry. I do not have a small kitchen yet I always seem to need more space. Your bread looks great as usual and the square shape would make perfect tea sandwiches.

Jane Moxey said...

Thanks for sharing your bread baking adventures! I am so enjoying reading your blog. I've just got bitten by the no knead bread business. I have found the Cooks Illustrated version of the NY Times recipe which adds beer and vinegar to all the other ingredients. I actually used my KitchenAid with its dough hook for the first time yesterday and now am digging in recipe books for MORE bread to bake. I am waiting for a bread stone to arrive so I can start in on the recipes in the "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" book. Your pain de mie looks so good! I have a batch of the Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf dough rising from the Cooks Illustrated recipe which is well demonstrated on the Breadutopia website with videos to give me even more confidence! I am enjoying building my bread baking "batterie de cuisine." Your pan for the pain de mie is smashing!

breadbasketcase said...

ECL,
I went through my hippie phase in the 60's--I hope I don't have to go back. Although....there's a wonderful song by The Bobs with the lyrics, "First I was a hippie, then I was a stockbroker, now I am a hippie again." So who knows? Maybe I'll start wearing granny dresses to work.

Melinda,
I had to order the potato flour from King Arthur--just a wee bag. I think I got the vital wheat gluten there too. Didn't you say once that they don't ship to your part of the world?
I'm sure that it's the bread used for a Croque Monsieur--if not, it should be. You should use your potato flour to make this bread! You'll still have plenty left for Rose's recipe, and you'll be able to stop feeling guilty about never using your pan.

Oriana,
You are exactly right about the tea sandwiches! I didn't think of that, but this bread would make lovely cucumber or smoked salmon or egg sandwiches. I know what you mean about the paraphernalia--I have to give myself a little talking to whenever the King Arthur catalogue arrives because there's always something that I must have, and then it turns out that I can do without it.

Jane,
Thanks for writing. It sounds like you're really having fun, which is really the whole purpose behind baking bread--along with having delicious bread to eat, of course. I haven't checked out the Breadutopia videos, but I will now.

Goody said...

We always called it a Pullman loaf too. Now you've inspired me to dig out the pan and bake a loaf. I wonder how raisins would work with this bread? I have potato flour that is somewhat vintage, though not in decades.

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pinknest said...

omg i love your lidded loaf pan!! i have always wanted one, but determined that i wouldn't use it enough. i still want it! your bread looks so pretty.

jini said...

marie, you are giving me bread pan lust. you have a pan for every different loaf. jealousy is unattractive i know, but darn.
the bread looks yummy, and even though it's white, extremely unwonderbreadly. :)

breadbasketcase said...

Goody,
I finally had to look up "Pullman loaf." According to wikipedia, there are two theories of origin: 1) that the bread looked like a Pullman railroad car or 2) that it was used on the railroad dining cars because its shape made it easily stackable, hence taking up less space. I guess I go for #1.

Pinknest,
The pan is vintage and very delightful. Every block or apartment building should have one pain de vie pan to share.

Jini,
I bought all my equipment pre-Recession, when it was still cool to acquire things. You can borrow it any time.

jini said...

wow.....that's awfully cool of you marie! thanks!

Anonymous said...

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