Pain de Mie (A Fancy Name for White Bread)

As fate would have it, as we near the end of our Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge journey, in which we have baked everything from French and Italian breads to celebration breads to breads filled with meat and cheese, for the fortieth bread in the Challenge, we hit on a very simple (some might argue too simple) white bread. The French call it pain de mie, which translates to “bread of the crumb” but is really just a fancy way of saying everyday sandwich bread.

I wasn’t as ambivalent about this bread as some BBAers, like Paul from Yumarama. In fact, I really liked it toasted with homemade jam. But I can see his point. It’s not what you expect this late in the game. This is more of a first-loaf, getting-your-feet-wet kind of bread. I know the recipes are in alphabetical order. Still, it felt like a bit of an anticlimax to be making such a basic loaf the 40th time out.

I baked this bread twice: once using variation #1 and a second time using the sponge in variation #3. I used my Pullman pan both times, although the second time I didn’t put on the lid. Here’s how the first version came out:

Note that the Pullman pan gives you a perfectly rectangular loaf, and nice, square slices of bread. Perfect for sandwiches, but not so artisanal looking.

Version #3 starts with a quick sponge. Unlike the typical preferment, the sponge is only allowed to ferment for about an hour before it is mixed into the dough. Otherwise, it is a fairly standard enriched dough. It kneaded beautifully and had a nice texture.

I didn’t divide the dough after it fermented, as the Pullman pan requires almost 3 1/2 pounds of dough per loaf.

When I made version #1, I allowed the dough to rise until it was about 1/4-inch from the lip of the pan, then I sprayed the lid with cooking oil and slid it on the pan. I began preheating the oven at that point, and baked the loaf with the lid on for about 20 minutes. I removed the lid and allowed the loaf to finish baking.

With version #3, however, I decided to use a Dutch crunch topping, which meant I couldn’t use the lid, as I was afraid the topping would all stick to the lid and probably burn. For the Dutch crunch, I used cornmeal, flour, yeast, salt, oil, and water. I brushed it on after the bread had proofed in the pan, shortly before I put the loaf in the oven.

Pain de Mie - Proofed, before Dutch Crumb

Pain de Mie with Dutch Crumb

 I baked the loaf at 350 dF for 20 minutes, turned it 180 degrees, inserted a probe thermometer, and continued baking until the internal temperature reached 187 dF.

Check out that crazy oven spring! The top of the loaf was about 1/8-inch below the top rack. And it baked over the sides of the pan quite a bit, too.

As far as taste goes, version #1 was a decent, but not remarkable, loaf of white bread. Fine for sandwiches or eating toasted with jam. Version #3 was still not an out-of-the-ballpark bread, but it was much tastier than the first version. I’m not sure whether it was the sponge, Dutch crunch, or a combination of both. I suspect they both played a role in the flavor of this bread. Again, it was a good sandwich bread and great for eating toasted with homemade jam. And it was tasty enough to eat toasted with just butter.

I will make this bread again, as I enjoy making pain de mie to use for sandwiches and toast. I’ll definitely use version #3 again. And probably Dutch crunch, too. I might try using the crunch with the lid on just to see what happens.

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11 Comments

  1. February 28, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    [...] barm, sourdough starter, yeast Having recently baked one really good (Vienna), two so-so (Pain de Mie and Whole Wheat), and one yuck (Tuscan) breads in the past few weeks, I had high hopes for the [...]

  2. February 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

    That is some amazing oven spring you got going on there! Love the Dutch Crunch topping idea!

    • gaaarp said,

      February 23, 2010 at 6:39 pm

      Thanks! This was a delicious bread. And I’m crazy about Dutch crunch!

  3. February 20, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    [...] buns SallyBR from Bewitching Kitchen who picked variation #2 and found her rolls delicious. Phyl Of Cabbages and King Cakes liked var #1 well enough that he then made var #3 with a Dutch Crunch for fun. Anne Marie over [...]

  4. oggi said,

    February 16, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I love the Dutch-crunch topping on white bread, it looks pretty.

    I just got a made in the USA recycled steel 9 x 4 x 4 Pullman from amazon. The brand is USA Pan.

  5. AnneMarie said,

    February 14, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    I decided to try all three in one day because I wanted to know which one we preferred. I used King Arthur’s dry milk for #1 and we really enjoyed it. I now have white bread and rolls coming out of my cupboards but it was fun. I’m glad to see that it fit in the pain de mie pan.

  6. Paul said,

    February 14, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Ooo! Good idea with the Dutch Crunch. Looks awesome and probably added some distinct interest to the flavour, particularly as you used cornmeal.

    So you think that the preferment made much of a difference, then? Maybe I’ll give that 3rd variation a go, just to say I really gave this one a try. I think your point about this being a bit too “basic” a bread at this point of the game has merit. If we’d done this at the start, it may not have had so many other interesting breads to go up against and would have seemed a little more intriguing/challenging. Its placement at practically the end of the run by mere happenstance if the alphabet may be working against it a fair bit.

    And I really need to locate a good supplier of bread stuff up here in Canuckland so I can gets me hands on a Pullman. That alone would have visually helped this bread become more interesting.

    Just a few more to go… Both the Potato, Cheddar & Chive and the Roasted Onion & Asiago breads are looking like they’ll be interesting breads to finish the Challenge with.

    • gaaarp said,

      February 14, 2010 at 6:09 pm

      Thanks for the comments, Paul.

      Are you able to order from Amazon at reasonable shipping rates? That’s where I got my Pullman pan. The pan and lid came separately but were still cheaper than anywhere else I found. The brand name of the one I got is Amco Food Service.

      I’m looking forward to the final two breads. I made a “rule” for myself after my monster 12-bread blog that I won’t move forward on the Challenge if I have two breads to blog about. It has really motivated me, especially when I have to write about a bread that wasn’t great. I can move onto the Potato Cheddar bread now. But I’ll have to write about the Whole Wheat (not a fan) before I can finish off the Challenge.

      • Paul said,

        February 14, 2010 at 6:57 pm

        Thank you for the tip on the Pullman, Phyl. I’ll go check them out and see how feasible they are. I’m wanting to do the Horst Bandel Black Pumpernickel from Hamelman’s and that will indeed require a Pullman. Maybe not a 3.5 pounder though ;)

  7. Natashya said,

    February 14, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    lovely!
    I have skipped a few ahead, just to make some burger buns for my son, and made the #1. When I get back to the white section I will try #3 with the crunch topping, looks intriguing!

    • gaaarp said,

      February 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm

      Thanks, Natashya. It really is a good white bread. Nothing fancy, but much better than store bought bread.


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