Pain de Mie and Melba Toast

This bread turned out to be a sweet white sandwich bread, loaded with sugar and dried milk powder, called Pain de Mie or Pullman bread by Jeffrey Hamelman- one of the Mellow Bakers January breads.

Pain de Mie is sandwich bread, characterized by a thin crust and a soft crumb. Using a tin with a closed lid helps to create this type of bread. It is used in France for a lovely toasted croque monsieur and other calorific goodies but as a stand alone bread doesn’t really do much for me.

1250 grams of this yeasted dough made a perfect rectangular loaf in my huge French pullman tin which measures 40 cm x 9.5 cm x 9.5 cm.  I had no idea how to work out how much dough to use but I was saved by Ulrike!  She did the sums for me;  one of the many advantages of baking along with a group of people, there’s always someone around to make suggestions and I needed help for sure with these calculations.

I had some dough left over which went in a little tin; you can see the contrast between the two tins in a pic in the slideshow.  I know which look I prefer…

I proved the dough with clingfilm over the top till it was about 1.5 cms from the top of the tin and then I slid the cover on and baked it. I didn’t need to return this one to the oven as it came out very golden and sounded quite hollow. I think the colour comes from all that sugar and dried milk powder, It certainly looked the business. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by how sweet it was, but then I find American chocolate too sweet as well. National tastes differ.

More noticeable was that it staled fairly quickly. So I thought I would amuse myself and make some Melba toast with it.  Melba toast was created for Dame Nellie Melba, an Australian opera singer, by one of her fans, the chef Auguste Escoffier. The dessert, Peach Melba, was created by him for her at the Savoy in London.  What passion!

It was the height of sophistication to have Melba toast in restaurants when I was growing up, wafer thin, crisp and delicate, and perfect with a big slab of paté. If you’ve never made it, do it just once for the fun of it! I  used to make it as a student, a large slice of Mothers Pride makes four triangles of Melba toast and it is one of the best things to do with this sort of bread.

To make Melba Toast

Toast thin slices of bread in your toaster

Cut off the crusts neatly to create a perfect square

Then with a sharp knife split the square in half through its soft centre

If you want curly triangles, cut the squares in half again and then toast under the grill  soft centre side up

Watch like a hawk! It will burn the moment you take your eyes off it.

Now where’s the paté?

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NB For quick links to all the Mellow Baker info and breads baked to date from “Bread’ by Jeffrey Hamelman click here to go my Mellow Bakers Index Page or here to go direct to the Mellow Bakers Forum. Please join in at any time. You’re most welcome!

13 thoughts on “Pain de Mie and Melba Toast

  1. heidi

    All that sugar probably led to the early stale!
    Although sugar is a preservative in fruit.
    Hmm, I do like the look of your pullman tin.
    I like my bread to taste yeasty and salty rather than sweet.
    But I don’t buy bread very often, so I can’t speak for
    the American taste. Although we do tend to go for sweet
    AND salty and hot rather than bland.
    Thanks for sharing yet another beautiful bread!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Ah you think it’s the sugar in the dough? Interesting. I’ve not had a loaf stale this fast for a while; the sourdoughs go on getting better for a few days and the milk breads and potato breads also last well…
      I don’t think it is one I’ll make again in a rush Heidi though it was quite fun to do :)

  2. sallybr

    Very nice! I think when we finally go back to our regular home I will buy one of these Pullman loaf baking thingies as a “welcome home” gift. I’ve always wanted to have one, but will probably get a smaller version.

    Loved the melba toasts too…

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thanks Sally, the one I want is the 13 ” one from Chicago Metallic. But I have this one and a strange one that came from Malaya which is unlined and not as good and for the number of times I make square bread I can’t really justify another one… but you could make melbas in the micro kitchen I bet ;0

      1. sallybr

        Not sure it would work here, Zeb. I would have to check very carefully the dimensions of the pan, I already bought one roasting pan without measuring, only to realize it is maybe 5mm too big :-(

        Don’t want to make the investment on the pain de mie pan without being absolutely sure – of course, I could always save it and take it with me later, but I am afraid our pick up truck is already going to take home twice as much stuff going back!

  3. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Aaah, so now we’ve identified the UFO.. ;-)

    I love melba toast and pate, but not a huge fan of sweet white milk bread! For some reason, the slide shows no longer work for me, perhaps I need to update my javascript…

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      No don’t make this bread, tis not for you sweet Cecilia, get thee away…. maka da melba wida sometinga elsa :) Just needs a square tin, or a triangular one if you have one ;)

      Congratulations on spotting the Alien Bread Invader too!

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          So do I. I don’t like square bread, I make it because… oh I don’t know… because I am following the Yellow Brick Road I guess. Made some bloody lovely pain au levain yesterday, proper bread! And some fab 80% rye of which I was very proud.

  4. C

    It looks great, it really does – beautiful crumb and it’s a lovely colour too. I can understand that it’s not really your cup of tea though – sweetened, yeasted, white bread with none of the depth or complexity of sourdough or other grains. Like Celia I love the look of the open tin loaf – it’s got an amazing oven spring going there!

    Your melba toast made me smile. I remember my mum and dad making melba toast under the grill for dinner parties when my brother and I were much younger, to serve with chicken liver pate as a starter. We didn’t much like them having dinner parties because we had to stay upstairs out of the way, and be quiet, but the melba toast was great because we got to nick all the crusts as they were cut off the bread before it was split – happy memories!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I turned the crusts into bread crumbs this time C… the ones I didn’t nibble ;) I eat white bread quite happily usually, I am not sure why I didn’t like this particular one that much. I suspect I am used to the ones made with whole milk and malt syrup which is the usual yeasted white I make, I prefer the more subtle sweetness of the malt syrup and I am very fond of white breads made with cream/and or yoghurt or with oatmilk or soyamilk and with potato and….brioche and challah…. and all the enriched white breads. Big fan here! Do you think it’s time for a Melba toast revival?

  5. Pingback: White Bread (Toast Bread) | Zeb Bakes

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