“A kid comes up to me in a white jacket, gives me a Ritz cracker and chopped liver, he says ‘Canapés,’ I say, ‘Can o’ peas my ass! That’s a Ritz cracker and chopped liver.'” Frank Pentangeli, Godfather II
The French for the bread is Pain de Mie, the American version is Pullman Bread. This is the king of all sandwich or canapé breads, the crumb is tender, smooth, and flavorful without being overpowering to that which is stacked on top of it (even chopped liver!). The crust is almost nonexistent. This bread can be sliced thinner and smoother than any other bread I know of.
Julia Child and James Beard give it very high marks and both have recipes that will produce a nice loaf of bread. Both are, in my opinion, too complex and iffy. There is no guarantee that one loaf will be the same as the next. A much better bread authority is (in my opinion) Jeffrey Hamelman. Mr. Hamelman’s opus Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes should be on the shelf of every serious baker, whether professional or home variety. If you only have one book on bread making, this should be it. Now Mr. Hamelman is a professional baker, primarily writing for professional bakers, but he does discuss home baking and does scale his recipes for them. I don’t pay much attention to the home measurements, I enter the metric professional recipes into my Living Cookbook program and then scale them (in metric) to however many loaves I want at the moment. Dead on every time. I will give this one, as reworked by me, in metric weight measurement – that is really the only way to bake nowadays. If you don’t have a good metric tare scale that will do at least 11 pounds, then get one. It will make your baking 1000% better.
Oh yeah, you really need a Pain de Mie Pan for this. It is a straight sided pan with a lid, 4” x 4” x 13”. There is also a 16” size, but this is a bit much for the home baker. There are several places to get them, the two that come to mind are the King Arthur Flour web store and fantes.com. Both are good sources. If you don’t have a proper pan, you can kind of fake it by taking a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan and putting it on top of a regular bread pan with a brick on top of the whole assembly. Kind of awkward, at best, and you stand a bit of a chance of knocking over and making a mess or getting a burn. Your choice. A good pan is only $30.00 and is useful for many other breads that you might want sandwich size/shape on.
This will make one standard Pain de Mie loaf:
590 grams bread flour
30 grams powdered milk
15 grams sugar
30 grams unsalted soft butter
355 grams water
11 grams salt
1 pkg yeast
Mix all ingredients on low speed until combined – 3 minutes, then 2nd speed until completely kneaded – 3 minutes.
Let rise in a buttered bowl for 1 hour. Turn out, pat down, fold gently. Let rise another hour. I get better results by lightly buttering the work surface. Trying to work this bread on a floured surface will get too much flour into the loaf.
Pre-shape and let it rest for about 10 minutes, until the dough relaxes, then place into buttered pan, gently form to pan. Butter the lid and slide it on with just enough gap to see dough level.
Let rise about an hour, or until the dough is about ½” to ¾” from the top, close the lid and bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 45 minutes.
Turn out onto a cooling rack. After the bread has started to cool, wrap it in a towel to prevent the crust drying and toughening. Don’t cut into the loaf until it has cooled completely.