15 May 2018

The latest loaf

I'm still working out my pain de mie recipe. I made another "soft loaf" yesterday, and I'm getting closer to the desired result. Actually, I think I'm there. It was just a matter of finding the right amount of flour to use, and the right amount of yeast, to get the dough to rise enough to fill the lidded loaf pan completely. This time, I used 600 grams of flour — about 5 cups — and 11 grams of dry yeast — about 3 teaspoons. The yeast I'm using comes in 5.5 gram packets.

The other ingredients are salt and water. Optionally,  you can put in some sugar or honey and some vegetable oil or softened butter. I put in a good teaspoonful of salt. I put in a tablespoon of sugar this time, and about a tablespoon of sunflower oil. The flour mixture absorbed nearly 400 milliliters of warm water to form a soft, not-too-sticky dough. It rose very nicely for about 2 hours, in a big bowl, and more than doubled in volume.

Then I punched it down and shaped it so that it fit the length and width of the loaf pan, which I had oiled lightly. I slid the lid on and let it rise again for about 90 minutes. And it filled the pan, touching the inside of the lid. At that point I put the pan in the oven at 175ºC (350ºF) for about 10 minutes, and then turned the temperature down to 160ºC (320ºF) and let the loaf bake for another 20 minutes. I'm using a convection oven, so in a classic oven you might want the temperatures a little higher. You have to experiment with it. For me, it's fun.

The goal with pain de mie is a compact loaf of bread that doesn't have much of a crust. French bakers used to make and sell pain de mie as a standard item, I think, but supermarket loaves have taken over the market. I've tried several brands, but haven't been thrilled with any of them. Some are too sweet. Some have a gummy mouth-feel. Some are just bland. I haven't sliced yesterday's loaf yet, so I don't know what the "crumb" or mie — the soft white inside of the bread — looks like. I'll be slicing the loaf this morning and making croque-monsieur sandwiches for lunch. That's the French version of a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich. More about that later.


  1. Looks good!
    I occasionally buy a pain de mie but always find them too sweet, which is a shame because they're great for sandwiches. I love the classic French baguette but they produce a sandwich which can be hard to chew your way through, the bread to filling ratio being all wrong.......for me anyway!

    1. So do bakers around LGP usually have pain de mie in stock? Or is it a special order item? Our village baker doesn't make pain de mie at all. One boulangerie in Saint-Aignan makes some but just for weekends, and they sell out really fast. A baker over in Noyers makes them for you if you order them in advance.

      Meanwhile, I'm having fun playing with my new "Pullman" loaf-pan-with-a-lid...

    2. Oh, one good French bread for sandwiches is what they call a pain ordinaire, and especially if it's moulé (cooked not on the stone floor of the bread oven but in a metal mould). Those pains ordinaires are pretty soft and have little or no crust (depending on the baker, of course).

    3. I get pain de mie from the supermarket or village shop as the baker doesn't have it. She does lots of other delicious types of bread, including a "boule" which you can ask to have sliced, which is good for sandwiches but sometimes a little too fragile when sliced. You can't beat the old, much derided "wonderloaf" sliced bread for your lunchtime cheese and pickle sarni!

  2. This looks great. I'm waiting for photos of the slices. And what it tastes like.

  3. I usually bake my bread in a covered dish but bake uncovered for the last 20 minutes. It has a nice soft crust and much lighter inside.
    Your sandwich loaf I see is baked covered for the whole time. I am going to try your recipe soon. I won't have your wonderful covered tin but I think I can find something similar.

  4. Oh, I look forward to photos of your Croque Monsieur sandwiches. Oddly, I haven't found any really good ones to show my students.

    The loaf looks great!


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?