Whether you’re making sandwiches, croutons, French toast, or many other recipes, there’s nothing quite as versatile as the French Pain de Mie. While it doesn’t look as fancy as its other French cousins, this bread is just as tasty. On top of that, Pain de Mie is very easy to make, keeps for a long time, and even freezes well. This makes it ideal as both a casual sandwich and a fancy brunch dish with friends or family.
What is Pain de Mie?
The name Pain de Mie comes from the French word pain, which means bread, and la mie a term that refers to the soft part of the bread, or the crumb. This is because Pain de Mie is different from other French breads; its crumb is finer, as compared to the coarser crumbs found in alternatives like baguettes.
It is said that English-speaking tourists introduced the recipe to the English in the 1900s, resulting in a French bread that wasn’t so much celebrated as it was tolerated. Nevertheless, this new recipe kept fresh for longer, and it eventually became a staple in French kitchens.
Pain de Mie: the French Sandwich Bread
If you’re familiar with white bread, sandwich bread, or a Pullman bread, you likely know what Pain de Mie is. Simply put, Pain de Mie is the French version of sandwich bread.
Beyond that, Pain de Mie is the cheaper, more economical cousin of French breads. Compared to the usual types, Pain de Mie is sweeter. The crumbly texture that it owes its name to is due to the smaller air pockets found in its dough.
It is often sold like any sandwich bread: packaged and pre-sliced. Despite its less fancy look, the Pain de Mie can be found in many kitchens, mostly because it can keep for up to a week due to its fat content.
Of course, you can always opt to buy a loaf of French Pain de Mie in a store or bakery. However, like most things, a freshly baked, homemade Pain de Mie is almost always better than store-bought options. On top of that, Pain de Mie is very easy to make and fantastic in many recipes, like sandwiches and French toast.
It’s also a basic, go-to recipe for bakers at any skill level. Because Pain de Mie requires no more than a few kitchen staples, it can be whipped up in a jiffy, and you can easily serve your guests something fancy at a moment’s notice.
Pullman Loaf Pain de Mie
Of course, if you’re serving Pain de Mie, you may want to consider aesthetics as much as taste. Baking Pain de Mie in a Pullman loaf pan is a common practice for many bakers.
A Pullman loaf pan is much like a standard loaf pan, only it has taller sides and a top that you can slide open and close. This design lets you bake a loaf that is perfectly square, with four edges. A Pain de Mie baked in a Pullman loaf pan will look very similar to most commercially sold sandwich breads. If you packaged and put a label on it, none will be the wiser.
There are many advantages to baking a Pain de Mie using a Pullman loaf pan. For starters, it lessens the chances of cracking the bread’s surface. It will also prevent a dome from forming on top of the bread, resulting in an uneven amount of bread throughout. Its shape also makes it perfect for sandwiches, as it can let you line up slices perfectly, and you can easily remove the crust with just six slices.
However, a sandwich-bread look isn’t exactly the fanciest. While your homemade version is very likely to taste better than store-bought options, looks can be very deceiving, especially when it comes to bread.
Making Pain de Mie in a Pullman loaf pan can be a great way to make a loaf that’s easy to manage. However, if you’re trying to serve it as a fancy dinner treat, a typical loaf pan is the way to go. Let it form that dome, brown naturally, and form a few cracks on the surface. When it comes to homemade food, these little details transform a store-bought look into at-home charm. Dust the top lightly with flour for good measure, and you’re sure to wow your guests with your homemade bread.
How to Make Pain De Mie
Pain de Mie is a fast and easy recipe that can be made by bakers of any skill level. Because bread dough can be tough to handle, it’s best to use a stand-mixer to mix the ingredients together.
Of course, these recipes can still be made by hand — just make sure to pack in a bit of elbow grease.
Classic Pain De Mie
This classic Pain de Mie recipe will give you the most authentic taste and is the easiest to make. While the original recipe is made using a Pullman pan, you can easily make it in a standard loaf pan without changing the recipe.
- 2 ounces unsalted butter.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast.
- 1 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
- 2 teaspoons of table salt.
- 1 3/4 ounces of warm water.
- 16 ounces of unbleached all-purpose flour.
- 12 fluid ounces of whole milk, slightly warm.
- Cut the butter into ½ chunks. Let it rest on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
- Prepare your yeast by pouring warm water (between 105 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit) into a bowl. Add the yeast to the water and stir. Leave the yeast mixture for five minutes, until it bubbles. If the mixture doesn’t bubble, it means that the yeast has expired. Do the same procedure with a different yeast packet until your mixture bubbles.
- In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, and sugar. Stir these ingredients until fully incorporated.
- Add your milk and yeast mixture into a small bowl, and mix.
- Make a well in the center of your large bowl. In this well, add the milk and yeast mixture. Stir in the flour from the sides until the ingredients are incorporated. The dough will still be sticky at this point.
- Add the butter to the mixture. It should be at room temperature and should still be slightly solid. Continue to the mix the ingredients for about 2 to 3 minutes. The dough should now be smooth and elastic, but still soft.
- On a lightly floured surface, fold the dough into thirds. Do this by shaping the dough into a rough rectangle. Then, take one of the longer ends and fold it into the middle. Do the same for the other end. Turn the dough over so that the top is smooth, and pat down the edges to become rounder.
- Oil another large bowl. Place the dough inside with the seams up. Oil this side of the dough, then turn it upside down. Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature until the dough has doubled in volume. This should take about 1 to 2 hours.
- Then, sprinkle flour onto a flat surface. Place the dough onto your work area and shape it into a log. Then, cover with an oiled plastic wrap and let rest for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Once the second rise is complete, fold the dough in half lengthwise, using the side of your hand to seal the seams. Flip the dough over, fold it in half again, and seal the seam. Keep going until the dough feels smooth. Then, pinch the seams together to close.
- Transfer your dough to the prepared pan and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rise for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 435 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake your loaf on the lower-middle tray for 40 minutes.
- Leave the loaf to cool for at least an hour before slicing.
Sourdough Pan de Mie
Pain de Mie is known for its slightly sweet taste, but there’s nothing quite like the sourdough tang in fancy French bread. While you can easily make Pain de Mie with commercial yeast, adding sourdough can truly bring this bread to the next level. This sourdough Pain de Mie recipe demands a little more effort, but is well worth the trouble.
- 2 tablespoons of milk.
- 8 tablespoons bread flour.
- 3 ½ teaspoons of sourdough starter (at 65% hydration).
- 1 cup of bread flour.
- 3 tablespoons of sugar.
- 3 tablespoons of milk powder.
- 3 tablespoons of butter, softened.
- 1 teaspoons of salt.
- 1 cup of water.
- Mix the starter and let ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.
- After fermenting, mix the starter, flour, milk powder, sugar, and water. Let rest for 30 minutes.
- Add salt, then mix until the gluten is developed. The dough should be smooth, but slightly sticky.
- Add the butter. Knead until the dough sticks to itself, is soft, and is easily pliable. Alternatively, use a mixer on medium speed for about 15 minutes.
- Let the bread rise for 2 hours. The dough should expand slightly.
- After 2 hours, fold in thirds, and let rest overnight.
- Take the dough out of the fridge. Divide the dough into separate loaves and let rest for one hour.
- Shape the dough into a tight rectangle, removing all air bubbles.
- Put the dough in a prepared pan and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.
Pain De Mie French Toast
Pain de Mie is a versatile bread that can be used to cook up many different recipes. Of course, perhaps the most appropriate recipe that you can try is a French toast Pan de Mie. This recipe is easy to whip up for a quick breakfast, but is fancy enough to serve for brunch! It’s also a good way to make sure that you use up your bread before it goes stale.
- 1 loaf of Pain de Mie.
- 10 large eggs.
- 2 cups of half and half.
- 1/4 cup of packed light brown sugar.
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter.
- Maple syrup, optional.
- Confectioner’s sugar, optional.
- Preheat a rack in the center of your oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut eight slices of your bread; each slice should be about ¾ inch thick. Arrange them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. If there isn’t enough space, allow them to overlap slightly.
- Bake the bread slice for about 12 minutes until they are golden brown. Flip them halfway through. Let the slices cool on the baking sheet and reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add half and half, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Whisk until combined and then transfer to a baking dish.
- Press the toast into the mixture, letting it soak for 30 seconds to 1 minute. A longer soak will give you a more sponge-like consistency. Do not oversoak, or the bread will fall apart.
- Place a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in it. Cook the soaked bread slices until each side is a golden brown – about 4 to 5 minutes per side. If the heat gets too high, reduce to medium-low heat.
- Serve with butter alongside maple syrup or confectioner’s sugar, if desired.
How to Store Pain De Mie
If you’re used to storing French bread, remember that Pain de Mie will store longer than most – for about a week. Storage options are similar to most sandwich breads: in a bread box on the counter, or in the fridge to keep it slightly longer. If you aren’t going to need your Pain de Mie for a while, you can stick in a freezer for one month. Pain de Mie should keep well, without losing taste or texture.
Of course, bread is always better fresh. Instead of freezing extra, try using leftovers as croutons, a quick breakfast of French toast, or even a fancy snack of croque monsieur. Then, when you do need your bread, just whip up a fresh batch for the best taste and freshness.
Pain de Mie is great bread to make for yourself or for a fancy brunch with friends. Despite being different from most French breads, it makes a lovely addition to many other foods. Try some today!