It’s one of those weeks. A new American pullman tin has found its way into my tin collection and needed to be road tested. I didn’t need this tin, but I wanted it. It was the right size and I had been eyeing them up for a long time. Why no English tin manufacturer produces these for the retail market is completely beyond me.
I also got a banneton with a wooden middle that looks like a Mexican hat. I didn’t need that either, but I really wanted it too. I tried it out and Bakery Bits let me exchange it for a proper couronne basket. This one has too narrow a centre to create a proper hole in a decent sized loaf. Some people spend their money on sensible things, like a night in the pub. I spend mine on banettons, Lego, cookbooks and dogtoys.
It worked beautifully and Brian is happy to have a soft thin crusted white loaf after eating sourdough for weeks. This bread won’t hang around long.
This photo standing on end is my homage to Franko on the Fresh Loaf who recently posted a beautiful photo of an 80 % sourdough rye bread he had crafted. Now that’s some bread!
But surely, I hear you mutter amongst yourselves, she just wrote a post about one of these? Yes but…. the random bread selector of Mellow Bakers threw this one up this month as well as the Pain de Mie last month, so it’s square bread time again. Just read this very quickly. It won’t take long.
I took a view on the recipe though. I am trying to avoid sugar this month and all these white bread recipes have sugar in them. So I compromised and used light spraymalt instead for that English taste.There’s no milk powder in this one, and just a smidgen of butter and it is a great loaf of white bread that toasts very nicely and doesn’t taste sweet. Unlike the stuff you buy in the shops, if you squeeze the crumb of this loaf between finger and thumb it springs back and still looks like bread instead of damp kitchen roll.
Spraymalt is still sugar of course, but I’m pretending that it’s not quite as bad as the white stuff. So just pretend along with me, please.
I tried the ball method of filling up the pullman tin which I had seen several of the other Mellow Bakers try. It took me just as long to weigh out four equal balls of dough, shape and squeeze into the tin as it would to make one piece to go in there and from an aesthetic point of view I don’t think it looks that wonderful. Of course it makes no difference at all to the slices and if it makes life easier for you then give it a go. I’ve scaled the recipe down here to give enough to fit one 13 inch Pullman tin, just over 1.3 kg of dough.
- 382 g strong bread flour
- 382 g very strong bread flour
- 504 g water
- 15 g soft butter
- 15 g salt
- 10 g light spraymalt or sugar
- 1 ½ tsp yeast
Method when starting late in the afternoon….
- Mix the above together well. Abandon half way through to have dinner. Go back and mess around with it a bit more.You could call this the autolyse phase, but I think that this would be a slight exaggeration.
- Leave to prove in a warm cupboard while you fall asleep on the sofa for an hour and a half. Shape and put in tin.
- Return to sofa for another hour or so. Get depressed watching the news so read about Viennoiserie in Michel Suas ‘Advanced Bread and Pastry’. Fantasize once again about making croissants. (Still haven’t made them by the way)
- Put oven on to 210 º C.
- Take dog out for short walk in the rain.
- Return and dry dog.
- Slide lid on pullman. Put in oven. Timer on for 45 minutes.
- Return to sofa. Finally leap up, find cooling rack, take tin out of oven, slide lid off (the exciting bit!) and watch loaf slide out like a cubist seal off a granite rock into a still and sunlit sea, yes it really was that good – leaving a tin that doesn’t need to be cleaned. Hooray!
- Leave to cool. Come down in morning to find loaf about to be consumed. Demand photos are taken before it’s all gone. The moral of this tale: Anyone can bake bread and still spend most of the evening on the sofa. Just give it a try! Forget all the geeky talk and just get mixing.
- If you don’t have a slidey lid tin then just use any tin you have to hand. I made the full quantity of dough from the original recipe so had about 400 grams over from which I made the little loaf in a superb slim Matfer tin, a brand Mick recommended for a slim high loaf. I prefer the look of an open topped tin myself. The pullman has an effect a bit like Magic Knickers on the dough, just a bit restricting! And finally, which did we prefer, this one or the Pain de Mie? Brian voted for this one, said it was the best bread I had made in weeks. He would be happy if this was the only bread I made. Well, it’s not going to be that way….
PS If you hover your mouse over the photos you get to see the titles or ‘captions’. I’ve stopped putting captions directly below the photos for now, or do you prefer the captions?
What shall I bake next?
Or, more importantly, what are you up to in the kitchen this weekend?
Some interesting gluten/dairy/egg free projects coming up in The Guardian from Dan Lepard, starting this week on Saturday…
Edit: I realise from reading Celia’s lovely White Toast Bread post and her questions about this loaf that there is a bit more guidance that I should give anyone who has a go at making this.
Mixing: I mix the sugar or spraymalt, yeast and salt in with the flour for this recipe. If you don’t have very strong flour then you can make this bread perfectly well with regular strong bread flour, the crumb will be softer but you should still get a delicious loaf of bread. I soften the butter till it is a bit runny in the microwave and add it to the dough once the initial mixing of water, flour, yeast, salt and sugar has been done, some people like to rub the fat into the flour. It’s not going to make a huge difference as the amount of butter is small.
If you use a pullman tin, then you will need to lightly oil the inside of the tin and the lid. Slide the lid on when the dough is about 2 cms from the top and bake at that point.You can bake this in an open tin as well, and you will get a nice domed loaf.
Testing for doneness: If using a pullman you will need to take the loaf out of the oven and tip it out onto a cooling rack and then decide whether it needs more time. You can test for doneness by tapping the loaf and listening for a very hollow sound, by using a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of the loaf, (a method I only use on very large loaves usually). If you think the loaf could do with a bit longer, just put it back in the oven. There is a useful tip that I was told a while back, which is that people tend to overbake cake and underbake bread. You will never ruin a loaf of bread by giving it an extra five to ten minutes in the oven. When in doubt give it the extra time!