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.
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 cup (5 1/2 ounces) semolina flour
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
- 1/2 cup white wheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the water, semolina flour, honey, yeast, and bread flour. Stir to combine. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
Add the white wheat flour, salt, and butter and knead with the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer until the dough is smooth and elastic. Flour your work surface lightly, and knead by hand briefly, then form the dough into a ball. Drizzle with olive oil and return it to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. turn out the dough and knead it briefly to knock out the large bubbles. Form it into a log about 13 inches long - to fit inside the pan. Place the log in the pan, seam-side down. Put the lid on the pan and set aside until the dough has risen to within about an inch of the top of the pan - about 40 minute (but you might want to check at 30 minutes, just in case)
Bake at 350 degrees until the loaf is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a rack before slicing.
13 x 4 x 4 pullman pan