I recently picked up a pullman loaf pan. If you're not familiar with it, a pullman pan (also known as a pain de mie pan) has a lid. Rather than having the flared sides of a typical bread pan, this one has straighter sides.
The lid performs several different functions. First, it keeps the bread confined, which means it can't rise as much as it wants to. This affects the crumb structure; you won't get big bubbles.
Second, the bread comes out of the pan with a square top. It's actually pretty square all around. It makes nice sandwich bread and if you need to cut the crusts off for presentation, you won't have a lot of waste.
Third, since it cooks in that confined space, the steam from the cooking bread doesn't escape the way it does when you cook free-form, or even in an open pan.
Does everyone need a pullman pan? Probably not. But if you want this type of bread, having the right pan sure works a heck of a lot better than more, er, creative methods.
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About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie or @cookistry.