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The Yeast Bread of Childhood: Le Pain De Mie Recipe
Pain de mie…what a beautiful phrase to describe a delicious yeast bread recipe. “Le pain” is the loaf of bread while “de mie” refers to the soft crumb of the bread. A literal interpretation would be something like “The loaf of bread with a soft crumb.” Pain de mie is a soft, usually sliced, French yeast bread recipe. It has sugar in it, so it is sweeter than most French bread. My recipe has a little more sugar in it than most French bread recipes, because I grew up on Heiner’s Old-Fashioned sandwich bread and Wonderbread, which are both far sweeter than most any typical French yeast bread recipe.
If you like an extremely soft, tender loaf of white yeast bread, try this recipe. You will not be disappointed. It is about as tender and fluffy as you can get. It is so tender, if you do not have a very sharp knife, you won’t even be able to cut it without squishing it!
When adding the water in a yeast bread recipe, start with a little less than is called for. Add more to get the consistency required for the recipe. Yeast bread recipes vary because of humidity/dryness in the air, where you store your flour, and much more. You can always add more water if needed, but once you have added the water, you can't take it back out if the dough is too wet.
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, start with the lesser amount
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, (14.875 ounces)
- 1/4 cup dry milk powder
- 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten
- 3 tbsp potato flour
- Combine all the ingredients in the bucket of a bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer (usually wet first, then dry, with yeast last). If you don’t have a bread machine, feel free to do this in a stand mixer or by hand.
- Knead the dough until it is smooth and soft. In a bread machine, just let it go with the white dough program. If kneading in a stand mixer, it will need about 5-7 minutes on low speed with a dough hook. If kneading by hand, it will be more like 10-15 minutes.
- When the dough has been sufficiently kneaded, place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise in a warm, draft-free place for one hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Grease a Pullman loaf pan, including the underside of the lid.
- After the dough has risen until doubled, gently punch it down and shape it into a log about the length of the Pullman loaf pan (13”). Be sure the log is as smooth as possible on top, but do not overwork the dough at this point.
- Place the dough in the Pullman loaf pan and cover the pan with greased plastic wrap.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can wait until about 15 minutes before the dough is risen, but don’t forget to preheat!
- Allow the dough to rise until it is about ½” to ¼” inch below the lip of the Pullman loaf pan. This may take around 45 minutes in a warm kitchen, longer in a cooler kitchen.
- Remove the plastic wrap and place the lid on the pan gently.
- Let it rest for about 10 more minutes to allow the dough to fully rise in the pan.
- Bake the loaf for 25 minutes with the lid on.
- Carefully remove the bread from the oven and remove the lid.
- Return the bread to the oven without the lid and bake for an additional 20 minutes. This step allows the top crust to brown.
- When done, the bread should register 190 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
- Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to rest in the pan for about 10 minutes.
- Turn the bread out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing (if you can stand to wait that long!)
Wusthof Serrated Bread Knife
If you want perfect slices and a knife that will cut through everything from the softest bread to the crustiest loaf, the Wusthof serrated bread knife is perfect. You can get this knife on Amazon for about $60. It's a steal!!!
|Serving size: 1/2" slice|
|Calories from Fat||18|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 2 g||3%|
|Carbohydrates 15 g||5%|
|Sugar 2 g|
|Protein 3 g||6%|
|Sodium 116 mg||5%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
USA Pans makes excellent bread and pizza pans. This is the Pullman loaf pan you see in my pictures. Bread NEVER sticks in this pan. It is, without a doubt, the best bread pan I have.
Can This Recipe Be Made in a Traditional Loaf Pan?
This makes a large loaf, big enough to fill a traditional pain de mie pan, which is 13” long rather than your typical 8 ½” loaf pan. If you have a longer pan, say an 11” loaf pan, you could try it out. I think it would rise beautifully. I would not try it in an 8 1/2” loaf pan. I think it would rise too much and lose its shape. It might mushroom over the sides of the pan or fall entirely. If you are new to baking with yeast, I strongly suggest you use a recipe made for a traditional loaf pan to start with. There are lots of excellent recipes out there and you could follow them precisely. Baking with yeast is as much art as science, and it takes practice to really understand the various elements at play. Do not despair though. As Ovid said, “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.”
Why Use Vital Wheat Gluten?
Generally speaking, vital wheat gluten is used to provide structure and help whole-grain breads rise their highest. I add vital wheat gluten to this recipe to help the loaf rise high and keep it’s shape. I also think it makes for a fluffier loaf of bread. You can try it with or without. It’s not entirely necessary, but I think it makes a difference.
What is Potato Flour & Do You Need It?
Potato flour is flour made from, you guessed it, dried potatoes. Potato flour makes very fluffy, moist yeast breads and increases shelf life. This pain de mie is large, and there are only 2 of us eating it, so increasing the shelf life is a good thing. I hate for my homemade breads to go bad! If you omit the potato flour in this recipe, you will need to back off the water by a tablespoon or two. Start with a cup and add more to get the dough to the right consistency.
What About the Dry Milk Powder?
If you do not have any dry milk powder, replace ¼ cup of water with milk. Milk gives yeast breads flavor. A good dry milk powder also will help with loft. It has a long shelf life and is a good addition to many yeast breads. The next time you are at the store, pick up a box. It is handy to have around as you can use it in recipe emergencies when you realize someone in the house drank the last bit of milk and did not tell you.
Butter Vs. Vegetable Oil
I choose to make this bread with vegetable oil, because it has a slightly higher fat content than butter, which makes the bread softer and richer. I have read of people complaining of the flavor of vegetable oil in bread and I would like to issue a warning: Vegetable oil should not have a flavor in your bread. If vegetable oil has an odor and strong flavor, it has gone bad. At room temperature, it only keeps for up to 6 months after it has been opened, so if you have an old bottle of vegetable oil, don’t ruin your bread with it! By all means, use fresh butter instead. It will be just as good, and it will have a delicious buttery flavor.
This recipe makes a large loaf, and you don't want all your hard work to spoil before it gets eaten. I have this bread keeper, and it makes a difference. My bread stays fresh about 3-4 days longer. It doesn't get stale and it doesn't mold until it's about a week old and sometimes older than that. This is one of the best investments I have made for my bread-baking forays.
© 2013 Leah Wells-Marshburn