Practically Perfect Pullman (13 inch pan)
After many requests, here is our simple recipe for a very soft white loaf which is excellent for packed lunches. It is certainly seems to make a popular change with the children from the more usual sourdough loaves that they have to suffer! I suppose that we could all do with light and fluffy once in a while.
Anyway, this recipe gives the correct quantities to perfectly fill one of our Chicago Metallic Pullman Pans, which will result in a block-shaped loaf giving square slices all the way down the loaf. You can treat this recipe as a starting point for your own variants by, for example, adding a small quantity of a malted flour, which will keep a similar texture but dramatically alter the colour and more subtly alter the flavour.
Pullman Tins or Pans, also known as pain de mie are used to bake sandwich loaves - a loaf with equal square sides resembling a Pullman railway coach - hence the name. Pullman pans have a lid, making the bread bake in a confined space, giving it a texture which is firm and fine and the crust soft, so perfect for even slices of bread for sandwiches. Our Pullman Pans from Chicago Metallic are heavy-duty and have a special glaze which lets the baked loaf pop out very easily.
The recipe originates from Hamelman and has passed through Zeb Bakes's hands before being adapted again for our Pullman Pans, and using a little dried malt extract in place of the milk powder. The quantity of dough produced is 1.13kg (2½lb).
- 640g strong white flour (100%)
- 30g Dried Malt Extract (or milk power) (5%)
- 15g sugar (2.5%)
- 35g softened butter (5%)
- 380g warm water (60%)
- 15g sea salt (2.5%)
- 15g fresh yeast (2.5%) (or 2 tsp dried yeast)
The method I prefer to use is based on that described in Dan Lepard's Handmade Loaf as it is easy and takes most of the slog out of kneading the bread. In a large bowl, add the sugar and dried malt extract (or dried milk), butter and water and stir until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and stir together until reasonably mixed (for this, I use a dough whisk). Leave for 10 minutes then scrape out the bowl onto a lightly oiled work surface. Give a light knead for 10 seconds or so. The dough will be pretty wet and gooey at this point, so I hold a scraper in one hand to scoop the dough and push down with the other which stops the dough getting all over the place. Put the dough back into the bowl for another 10 minutes and Repeat. Repeat once more and then after 30 minutes by which time the dough should be much more elastic and smooth. You probably won't need the scraper to help with kneading any more.
Put the dough into the bowl again and leave it for an hour in a warm place and covered with a damp tea towel (this helps stop a skin forming on the dough).
Lightly oil the Pullman Pan with a light vegetable oil (not olive oil as this become very sticky when baked). Take out the dough and give a light knead to leave it flattened and round. Roll up the dough to form a cylinder - don't be too worried about the precision of this as the dough is very soft and will fill the pan as it goes through its final prove. Put the dough into the pan and put back into the warm place, again covered with a damp tea towel.
In about an hour, the dough should have risen to about an inch (2.5cm) from the top of the pan. This is the ideal point for baking the loaf as it will expand a little more in the oven to completely fill the void. Take the pan from the warm place and pre-heat your oven to 200C. Making sure that the lid of the pan has been lightly oiled, slide it into place, closing the pan. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. Check to see if your loaf is baked and, if it, is, turn it out onto a cooling rack.