For my sourdough bread bake this weekend, I decided not to do the usual crusty artisanal loaves and try something different. Since I have had great success with recipes from The Perfect Loaf, I decided to try out his Pain de Mie recipe. Boy was I glad I tried this one!
Pain de Mie is the French version of sandwich bread. It uses an enriched dough that has whole milk, butter and honey in it and comes out with an amazingly soft bread that crisps up wonderfully on the outside in the toaster. With the addition of the tang you get from sourdough, this bread is addictive! We had it for breakfast both Saturday and Sunday and made sandwiches with the bread for lunch. I baked two loaves on Friday and we have almost finished all of the bread!
One of the nice things about this recipe is that it doesn’t need an overnight proof, so you can bake it the same day that you start it. The author of the Perfect Loaf recommends doing an overnight levain so that the bread isn’t as sour, but you can skip this part and just use your active starter. That’s what I did and I loved the bit of sour tang that was present in the bread. Since it was so easy to make, I we liked this bread so much, I decided to make another batch today!
I have copied out the recipe below for those that want to try it.
Another sourdough related thing I wanted to share was this proofing box I put together. As the weather started cooling down, I notice that my dough was taking much longer to proof. I tried putting it in the oven with the light on, but the oven was getting up to 90F which is a bit too warm for sourdough. I have seen people talk about proofing boxes with which you can control the exact temperature of that the bread proofs at, but when I looked it up, one would cost $250 + tax! A bit too steep for me.
In my search, I came across a video of someone who made their own with a seedling mat that has a temperature control unit and a Styrofoam cooler. I liked that Idea but wanted something that wouldn’t take up as much storage space as the cooler. After a quick search on Amazon, I found an extra-large insulated fabric food bag as they use for food delivery for $30 and the seedling mat with the temperature control unit for $45. I figured at less than half the price, it was worth a try and ordered them.
On Friday, I tried out my proofing box and it worked perfectly! I set my covered bowl of dough on top of a cooling rack that was set on the heating mat and my dough rose happily 🙂
Sourdough Sandwich BreadThis white sourdough pain de mie sandwich bread has amazing texture and a slightly sour tang. The addition of honey and butter give this bread a wonderfully complex flavour. Recipe credit: The Perfect Loaf. A stand mixer is recommended for this bread. You can find examples of both the stretch and fold technique and the bread shaping technique in this video.
- Remove butter from the fridge and cut into 1/4 inch pats. Place the butter pats in a bowl to soften.
- Combine flour, 315 grams of your water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir with a spatula until just combined. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
- Add your starter, the salt and the final 25 grams of water to your dough. Using the dough hook, mix on speed 2 for 4 minutes.
- Add the honey and mix for 2 more minutes on speed 2.
- On the lowest speed add the butter, one pat at a time and mix until the butter is incorporated.
- Increase the speed to 2 and mix until the dough looks smooth and gluten has developed, 2 to 3 more minutes.
- Now is the bulk fermentation time. Ideally, the dough should ferment at 24-25 C/76-78 F. The entire bulk fermentation could take 4-7 hours depending on the temperature that the dough is fermenting at. The dough should be in a covered bowl for this. Perform 3 sets of stretch and folds. The first at 30 minutes into the ferment and then two more at 30 minutes intervals after that. After the final stretch and fold, let the dough rise, untouched until it has risen significantly in the bowl and show signs of smoothness. If you wet your hand and gently poke and pull at the dough, it’ll feel more elastic and strong. You’ll also see bubbles at the sides and top, the edges where the dough meets the bowl will be dome down (convex) and the dough will be a bit jiggly.
- Now it is time to divide and shape your loaves. Dump the dough from your container to a lightly floured work surface. Using your bench knife, divide the dough directly in half. Then, liberally flour the tops of each half and preshape each into a tight round on the work surface. Let the dough rest uncovered for 30 minutes until it has relaxed and is ready to be shaped.
- Liberally grease two 9 inch loaf pans. Working with one round at a time, use a floured bench scraper to loosen the edges of the dough from the counter, then turn the dough over. Fold the bottom of the dough toward the centre, then fold each side toward the centre. Finally, fold the top of the down toward and over the bottom of the dough to form a log shape. Place the log seam-side down in one of your loaf pans.
- Cover both pans completely with plastic so no air reaches the dough for the final proof. I use a large plastic bag for this. The final proof time can vary depending on the ambient temperature in your kitchen. The dough should relax to fill the pan, rise to some degree, and spring back slowly when gently poked.
- Place a rack in the lower middle position of your oven and preheat it, without a baking stone, to 425°F (218°C) for 30 minutes. When hot, place baking pans in the oven side-by-side and bake for 35 minutes at 425°F (218°C). After this time, turn the temperature down to 375°F (190°C) and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until done. The interior temperature of the loaves should register above 208°F (97°C).
- Carefully remove the pans from the oven, uncover any that had lids, and turn out the baked loaves to a wire rack to cool. Be sure to wait at least 1-2 hours to slice after baking to ensure the interior has set and flavours have melded.