June 22, 2014

Pain-au-lait Pullman loaf

Another bread recipe baked in a loaf pan, this one uses the Pullman pan, named for the Pullman train car. The story is that these flat lidded pans were designed specifically to fit on the train, allowing room for 3 pans instead of 2 regular pans, where the bread bakes up rounded. The bread we made this week in such pans is a pain au lait, which means bread of milk. However, this recipe uses cream cheese instead of milk, so it should really be called pain au fromage à la crème. It has a delicate crumb, perfect for toasting. The shape of the bread makes it ideal for sandwiches, and the possibilities are only limited by your imagination and pantry. It's an easy bread to make, good for beginners and pros alike. 


I don't have a Pullman pan, so I borrowed one from a friend, promising to return it full of bread. Mixing the dough was simple enough. This bread doesn't require a starter, just yeast. The fermentation time is short, but the proofing time is long. I shaped the dough as instructed and placed it in the pan to proof.

It didn't even need the full 2 hours to rise. After only about an hour, the dough was already spilling out over the top of the pan. So I rapped the pan on the counter a few times and the dough shrunk down a bit. After an egg wash and a quick bake in the oven, the bread was ready!

The top wasn't as brown nor as square as I would have liked. I did like the grooves left in the bread from the pan. The sides were golden and beautiful. After a proper cooling, it was time to try a slice.

I cut a few thin slices, and the crumb was soft, but the pieces didn't fall apart. I tried the first piece by itself, and it was tasty, but with little flavor. The cream cheese did give it just the hint of a tang. 

Later I made grilled cheese sandwiches with this bread. I used spicy mustard from Germany, provolone cheese, and leftover meats from a salami platter. Seared in lots of butter, the bread got super golden and crusty, perfect for the melty cheese inside. 

I imagine this bread would be great for any sandwich: pb&j, cucumber cream cheese, blt, anything really! I've been munching on it all weekend, and even had it as toast with my eggs and bacon this morning. It's worth making another loaf just to have in the freezer for a rainy day.

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