Mie is French for the interior or crumb of a loaf of bread and this sandwich bread, or Pullman loaf, as it’s called in English, has a fine white crumb perfect for delicate sandwiches and toast. To bake this, you’ll need a special Pullman loaf pan that’s straight sided and has a cover so that the dough bakes to a perfectly symmetrical shape. If you’d like to try the bread before purchasing the special pan, it may be baked in a standard loaf pan. This is adapted from Professor Calvel’s formula in his book, Le Goût du Pain (The Flavor of Bread/Editions Jerome Villette, 1990).
Makes one 9-inch long loaf
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk, scalded and cooled
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon room temperature tap water, about 75°F
2 1/4 teaspoons fine granulated active dry or instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
One 9 x 4 x 4-inch covered Pullman pan or one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan, brushed with soft butter and sprayed with vegetable cooking spray
- Whisk the water and yeast together in the bowl of an electric mixer, then whisk in the cooled milk and sugar.
- Use a large rubber spatula to stir the flour into the liquid. Scrape the side of the bowl and continue mixing until no dry flour remains visible. Distribute the butter in 8 or 10 pieces on the dough.
- Place the bowl on the mixer with the dough hook and beat on lowest speed for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle in the salt and beat the dough on medium speed until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl, turn it over so that the top is oiled, and let the dough ferment until it is almost doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
- Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. Flatten the dough to a disk. Fold the two sides in to overlap at the middle, then roll the top toward you all the way to the end, jelly-roll style. Invert, flatten, and repeat. Return the dough to the bowl smooth (bottom) side upward, and let it rise until fully doubled, 30 to 45 minutes longer, depending on the room temperature.
- Invert the dough to a floured work surface and divide it in half. One piece at a time, pull the dough to a rough rectangle and tightly roll it from the farthest long end toward you, jellyroll style, pinching the end of the dough to seal. Leave the pieces of dough on the work surface seam side up and cover loosely with a cloth or oiled plastic wrap; let rest for 20 minutes.
- To form the loaf, place both pieces of dough 1/4 inch away from each other on a floured work surface. Grasping one of the short ends with each hand, twist the dough in opposite directions to make an interlocked spiral.
- Slide both hands, palms upward, under the twisted dough and invert it, seam side down into the prepared pan. Slide the cover about 2/3 of the way across the top of the pan. Let the loaf proof until it is about 1 inch away from the top of the pan.
- Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400˚F.
- Once the dough has risen so that it is only 1/2 inch away from the top of the pan, slide the cover closed and place the pan in the oven. Decrease the temperature to 375˚F and bake for 25 minutes.
- Without removing the pan from the oven, use oven mitts to slide the cover off the pan. Continue baking until the internal temperature of the dough is over 200˚F, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
- Remove the loaf from the oven and unmold it onto a rack to cool. Wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature if using the same day or double wrap and freeze for longer storage.