Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pullman Bread ( Pan de Mie )

Living with three school aged children, we go through a lot of sandwich bread. I bake a fair amount and the kids always enjoy having homemade rolls and hamburger buns at dinner time, but coming up with a decent sandwich bread is tricky.
Sandwich bread has to have enough body and structure to hold up to slicing without caving in. At the same time, it can't be tough or too chewy. It needs to be fairly uniform in shape and it needs to taste good.

Pan de Mie is a style of bread that fills these requirements, but the right pan is important. A couple of years ago, I got this great Pullman Loaf pan. ( Another in our collection of specialty pans by USA Pans)

This pan, with its sliding lid, forces the loaf to bake into a perfect square shape. Its heavy gauge aluminum construction results in an even, perfect crust.

I hadn't used the pan in a while, so I dusted it off yesterday and baked a loaf while the kids were at school. When they got home, they shouted "Bread!" when the aroma hit them as soon as they walked in the door. They ate about a third of the loaf while doing their home work. We'll see if we have enough left over for sandwiches.

There are a lot of variations of Pan de Mie out on the internet. The one below is an adaptation of Rose Beranbaum's version from The Bread Bible.

(I found the cooking time here to be way too long. My loaf was slightly overdone (197 degrees) at 35 minutes)

Pullman Loaf Sandwich Bread (Pain de Mie)
By Rose Levy Beranbaum,  The Bread Bible
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (Gold Medal, King Arthur, or Pillsbury)
1/4 cup dry whole milk
1 Tbsp dry instant yeast
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 liquid cups water (70-90 degrees F_)
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp salt

In a large mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, dry milk, and yeast. Add the butter and mix with the dough hook on low speed, then add the water, honey, and salt. When all the flour is moistened, raise the speed to medium  and beat for 7 minutes. The dough will be smooth, shiny, and slightly sticky to the touch. If the dough is not stiff, knead in a little flour.  If it is not at all sticky, spray it with a little water and knead it in.

On a lightly floured counter, shape the dough into a football.  Flour the top and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow to relax for 10-15 minutes. Removed the plastic wrap and gently deflate the dough, using your fingertips to spread it into ar ectangle about 10" x 8" wide. Flour the counter as necessary to keep it from sticking.

Give the dough one business-letter turn, then press or roll it out again to about 12" x 5" and shape it into a 16" loaf. Set it in the prepared pan. Grease the top of the pan and slide it into place, leaving it a few inches ajar so that you can gauge the progress of the rising dough.  Cover  the exposed area with plastic wrap if not using a proof box. cover the pan with a large container or set it in a warm area, allow it to rise until it is about 1/2 inch below the top of the lid, approx 1-1 1/2 hours.  When the dough is pressed with a fingertip, the depression will very slowly fill in.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees 30 minutes before baking.  Do not use an oven stone.
Bake for 30 minutes. Gently slide off the lid and continue baking about 30 minutes or until browned.
Remove bread from the oven and unmold it onto a large wire rack. 

Cool it top side up until barely warm, about 1 hour to make for easier slicing.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

New England Style Hot Dog Buns

We were having lunch with some folks in Maine years ago. Grilled hot dogs were on the menus. These were not like any hot dogs I had seen before. For one, they were bright red (referred to as "red snappers by Mainers) for another, they were served on a bun that was unlike any I had seen before.

The buns, used for hot dogs and for the classic presentation of the lobster roll is a split top affair, cut from a loaf. This means that most of them have crust at the top and bottom. The sides are soft.
What I liked about the buns right of the bat was that they were less spongey and more substantial than regular buns. What I didn't like was that you can't find them in California.

That's why I was pleased when I noticed recently that USA pans has come out with a baking pan that allows the home baker to make them. Pleased, not just because I would have a chance to make these buns at home, but because it was this company that chose to make them. USA makes very nice, sturdy pans that are a pleasure to use. [ I used to think a pan was just a pan. About this as with many other things in life, I was mistaken.]

I made my first batch recently. I was not disappointed. 

I won't go into detail here. As with most recipes, it has been documented with more detail and style than I could ever muster. 

In this case, I encourage you to look at P J Hamel's excellent post on the King Arthur Flour blog, Flourish.

My only comment would be that the recipe they use is a bit fussy. I used the same procedure, but used this more basic recipe:

3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons butter
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast

1) Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—to make a soft, smooth dough.
2) Cover the dough, and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it's doubled in bulk.
3) Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round 1" thick (more or less); flatten to about 3" across. Place the buns on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about an hour, until very puffy.
4) If desired, brush buns with melted butter. Or brush lightly with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water), and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
5) Bake the buns in a preheated 375°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, till golden. Cool on a rack.