I love baking bread with my sourdough starter, I really do. But sometimes, I want to bake bread on a whim. Sometimes, I want it to be a one day project – a one morning project, even – rather than a two to three day project. This is why I also love baking bread with commercial yeast, because when Nate asks for sandwich bread on Saturday evening, I can totally get it done on Sunday morning without having to do any planning or waiting for my sourdough starter to come out of hibernation.
Pain de mie is the French version of a sandwich loaf, commonly used to make the croque monsieur sandwich: a delicious combination of ham, melty cheese, and béchamel sauce on grilled bread. To die for. Traditionally, pain de mie is baked in a loaf pan with a lid so that it comes out perfectly square with a crunchy crust on all four sides, but I chose to bake it without a lid, and it is probably the most perfect-looking loaf of bread I’ve ever made! I think that comes down to the fact that I didn’t divide the dough into two loaves, and instead baked the whole thing in one 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, which gave it plenty of opportunity to rise up in a nice dome. I further broke from tradition by using one-third whole wheat flour, milled in my WonderMill grain mill. The bread is light and airy but it also has a nice wheaty flavour and a little bit of texture. A win all around, I’d say. I’m looking forward to sandwiches this week!
- 12 oz unbleached white bread flour
- 6 oz fresh milled whole wheat flour (use a high protein wheat, best suited for making bread)
- ½ oz / 3 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 tsp softened unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 11 oz warm water
- 2.4 oz / 4 tbsp whole milk
- 2 tsp fine grain salt
- Stir together the flours and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers, until evenly distributed. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.
- Combine the water, milk, and salt in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, then add to the flour mixture, mixing on low speed until combined in a shaggy, wet dough. Add a little more water if needed - the dough should be wet but still able to pull away from the sides of the bowl after some kneading.
- Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 10 - 15 minutes, until it is smooth, elastic, and cohesive. It should be tacky to the touch but not sticky.
- Cover the bowl with plastic and let the dough rise somewhere warm until doubled in size, 1 - 2 hours.
- Scrape the dough into a lightly floured surface and gently flatten it out into a rectangle. To shape the loaf, roll up the dough into a long, tight cylinder, pressing the seam together with your fingers to seal it.
- Grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan generously with butter and place the dough inside, seam-side down.
- Cover loosely with plastic and let rise in a warm spot until the dough is about 1" above the top of the pan, 1 - 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 475˚F with a rack in the middle. Place a roasting pan on the bottom rack. Turn the oven down to 425˚F and put the loaf on the middle rack. Pour about ½ cup hot tap water into the roasting pan to create steam.
- Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until deep golden brown on top (cover with foil if it browns too quickly). Remove the bread from the pan (it should pop right out if it was buttered well enough) and return it to the oven for 5 - 10 minutes, to colour the bottom and sides.
- Cool completely on a rack before slicing.