The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

pain de mie

pmccool's picture

More than a little irony in that title...

Let's talk about the new, first.  That would include the second edition of Hamelman's Bread and the pain de mie formula found in it.  It would also include some new Pullman pans that I picked up recently.  The book is remarkable, as many before me have said.  I don't see this one getting shoved aside by future books, as has happened with some that I own.  Yes, there are a few nits (why weren't the home formulae in metric units instead of English units?) but they are rather trivial compared to the quantity and quality of information residing between the covers.  The Pullman pans figure as a long-delayed gratification.  When faced with that much "new", why not put all of them together?  And then, to really put it over the top, why not employ a previously unused shaping technique?

That takes us to the "could be improved" part of the tale.  Not the formula, mind you, nor the pans, either.  The dough was a real treat to work with, especially since I usually work with breads having a significant percentage of whole grains.  It was smooth, silky, satiny; embodying all of those lush descriptors that cookbook authors love to employ.  The new (to me) shaping technique even worked nicely, thanks to txfarmer and others who like assemble their loaves from smaller components.  And the finished bread tastes wonderful, too.  

Everything appeared to be going well in the early stages:

There's just one niggling little problem.  Someone (I need to get an assistant, if only to serve as whipping boy) miscued on the dough quantity calculations.  It wasn't a fat-finger mistake, either.  More like a fat head mistake.  I shouldn't be so negative.  This bread actually achieved something that many home bakers want to emulate in their breads: ears.   No, no, no, not that kind of ears, this kind:

Maybe I should call them eaves, instead of ears.

Anyway, the loaves have a beautiful fluffy core, perhaps 2.5 inches across, with an approximately .75 inch wide perimeter band that is dense and firm.  Quite firm.  Oh, okay, it requires some serious chewing!  Not your Momma's Wonder Bread by any stretch of the imagination.  The crust is lovely, though.

Just guessing, but I probably had about 15% too much dough for the pans.  Thank goodness for a non-stick lining and some generous greasing before putting the dough in the pans.  The lids were somewhat reluctant to release but came off without requiring excessive force or causing harm to anything.  

I think I want to try this bread again, albeit with the right amount of dough in the pans.  If that works as I expect it can, the next step will be to experiment with some of Hamelman's ryes, baked in the Pullman pans.  If I get really brave, I may even try the Horst Bandel pumpernickel.

Despite my frustration with myself, it was a fun experience to play with a new bread, new pans, and a new technique.  And I've only scratched the surface with this book!


Diogo Riedi's picture

Ciril Hitz Pain de Mie

October 24, 2012 - 5:28am -- Diogo Riedi

has anyone tried baking Ciril Hitz Pain de Mie recipe?

I did and found it way too fatty, but as I usualy bake with only flour water and salt, It may be the reason way I though so... Either way I would like someone elses input on this, just to be sure.

PS. I'm loving his book, every other recipe that I tried was great.

varda's picture

I have been making the same loaf of bread since Sunday and it's not even sourdough.   It is my first Pain de Mie, using the formula that Syd posted here.    Usually when people tell me what a lot of work it must be to make bread, I say it doesn't take much time or effort - mostly you let the dough do the work.   That does not hold for this bread.   Syd's instructions say to work this dough until it either has a gossamer windowpane, or your arms cramp up.   Since my arms never cramped up even though they were (and still are) extremely tired, I worked the dough with a few short breaks for an hour and 10 minutes.   No gym today.   In theory I could have used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.   In practice it would probably have been the last time I used it.   

Since I have never made/bought/eaten this type of bread before I have no idea if it came out the way it should.  

I will say it's the most flavorful white bread I've ever tasted.  

A few baking notes:

The third day of the formula, or baking day, calls for "whole egg 140g."   I thought maybe ostrich egg?    I clicked through to the site that Syd referenced hoping for some clarification.  Unfortunately I can't read Chinese characters so no help there.   I ended up putting in 3 medium eggs which came to 156g.   Comparing my crumb to Syd's his seems to be a lot whiter, so that may have been incorrect.  

Update:   Syd's instructions call for heating the milk for the first mix (the water roux) but not for the next two.   I scalded for each of these because that's just what I do, but didn't know if it was necessary or not.  

During mixing, the dough stayed fragile until around 40 minutes.    At around 50 minutes it seemed to be getting stronger and silkier.   I went back to the Chinese site to see if they had any pictures of what it should look like.   They did.   I wasn't there yet so I kept going until an hour and ten minutes, at which point it was strong enough to twirl around like a pizza.   

Syd didn't mention steam, and I wasn't sure if that is called for in this type of bread.   Google translate was no help.   I finally decided to do steam for the first 15 minutes.   I baked one slightly smaller loaf in a pyrex bread pan (5 x 9 x 2.5 inches) and the second in my short Pullman (4 x 9 x 4).   Since I was reasonably sure that I wouldn't repeat the disaster of a few days ago where my attempt at a second Borodinsky went very wrong, I decided to cover the Pullman.   It didn't overflow.   It did reach the top.   My first success in covered Pullman baking.   I baked the Pyrex loaf at 356F (180C) for 35 minutes and the Pullman loaf for 40.   Could probably have baked each longer, but I didn't want to push it.   These aren't supposed to be crusty loaves after all, given that Pain de Mie seems to mean Crumb Bread.   (Sounds better in French.)  

Update:  I divided dough as 956g of dough into the Pullman and 820g into the Pyrex. 

So I have now baked an Asian Pain de Mie or a facsimile thereof.   Wonder how a French Pain de Mie would differ.   Just about everything I'm doing here is new to me.  I have certainly never hand-worked dough for over an hour before - maximum maybe 25 minutes.   Any suggestions for improvements are decidedly welcome.  

Oh, and incidentally this is either the 4th or 5th of Syd's formulas that I have tried, or around half of the number posted.   More please!  They are most interesting and excellent.

Bonus Rye Malt

In my efforts to make a second Borodinsky more authentic than the first, I took Janet's suggestion to make Rye Malt.  While I did find a few detailed suggestions on the web for how to do this, I still found it confusing, so I hope these documented steps will be helpful.

Step 1:   Find rye berries.   --- I found them at a food co-op in Cambridge MA which seemed to have bulk berries of many different varieties.  

Step 2:   Soak for 5 hours  --- I only soaked 60g worth because I didn't know what I was doing

Step 3:  Drain, rinse, and then keep moist while the berries sprout.   In the picture below they are just starting to sprout around 16 hours after soaking is complete.   I placed a wet paper towel on top of the berries, and had to remoisten it a few times.  

Step 4:  Put on a baking tray to dry out in the oven.    The picture at the top of the post where the berries are fully sprouted was taken 23 hours after the one above.

Step 5:   Dry out at very low heat for around 2 hours.   I kept the oven between 100F and 200F by acting as the oven thermostat. 

Step 6:   Grind them up.  I used a coffee grinder.

It's certainly not red.   I have no idea if it's Borodinsky appropriate.   But I will say that my Borodinsky didn't fail because of the malt.  

The Cats Other Mother's picture

Pain de Mie overflow!

June 3, 2011 - 2:21pm -- The Cats Other ...

Twenty minutes in to my latest loaf of Pain de Mie, and instead of the wonderful smell of bread baking, I was alarmed by the smell of something burning instead.  Peeking in, I found that the dough had forced its way out and some had fallen to the bottom of the oven.  I got the lid off and hopefully what stayed put will be as good as ever, but I need to know if the cause was:

A: Too much dough.  I added about a cup of extra flour, plus 1/4 cup mixed grains to my recipe, the first because my dough was very wet, and the other for more texture.

evth's picture


Ode to pain de mie

Won't wear anyone down with a poem here, but I will extol the virtues of just simple, pure white bread.  True, that this is a distant cry from any of the many handsome, crusty artisanal loaves of TFL.  There's nothing ordinary about this square and honest loaf.  What does it yield? A tender, buttery, soft crumb.  This is serious comfort food.
The mark of a civilized society may be said to have the crusts cut off.  Not here.  As thin as the crusts are, there is no need for trimming in the company I keep.  Great for sandwiches (think grilled cheese) and just as great with a nice spread of butter.
This bread is also known as a pullman loaf and was inspired by where the recipe can be found:
Pip pip or better yet, au revoir,
Next post: the quiche crust that won't quit!


davidg618's picture

We enjoy sandwich breads--soft crust, close crumb--a buttermilk white straight dough, the dough for three loaves made in our bread machine and oven baked,  or a whole wheat variation has been our mainstay for six or seven years. My favorite is the whole wheat version. Recently, I've made a sourdough variation a couple of times, with enjoyable results. It was natural I'd turn to this favorite for my first go at making pain de mie--Pullman bread. This is a poolish started version. The final dough contains 25% whole wheat, and is firm (60% hydration). As expected, the crumb is close and soft, and the crust slight. The bread has a sweeter flavor than the straight dough version. I suspect this come from the poolish which makes up 25% of the final dough weight.

I think I overfilled the bread-pan slightly. There is a slight compression of the crumb just inside the crust (although that could also be due the way I fit the dough log into the pan). Jeffery Hamelman, in Bread, recommends 2.25 lbs. of dough for a 13"x4"x4" Pullman bread pan. My dough weighed four ounces more. Next time I'll follow his guidance to the fraction of an ounce.

the crumb.

On the last day of class at King Arthur we baked Fougasse and pizza in the center's magnificent Le Panyol wood-fired oven. Here's a picture of our classes' youngest member, Michael who attended with his mother, loading his pizza into the oven, and another of my Fougasse. At 650°F it only takes a few minutes to bake, and because the fire was still burning in the rear of the oven we had to keep turning our breads frequently. It was fun, but it also made me appreciate my home's modern convection oven.

This bread was delicious when eaten immediately warm, but the next day it was rock hard, good for croutons or bread crumbs, but not much more.

smartdog's picture

My first attempt at using my new KAF pullman loaf pan. The recipe I used was their insert that came with the pan. It's cooling as I type this, so I won't have cut pics till sometime tomorrow.

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