All crumb, with little crust. I know this might not be the idea you have of a classic French bread, but it is the best way to describe this Pain de mie, which is a delicious French household staple in France.
Now the truth is, while growing up in France, I was not particularly fond of this style of bread. Pain de Mie is sold in every French supermarket and grocery store, sliced and packaged. And seeing these industrial-like, pre-packaged and sliced soft white breads is a vision that never really appealed to me (I much preferred a trip to my neighborhood bakery for a freshly baked, crusty baguette).
But this recipe (which I started to make just a few weeks ago) definitly reconciled my relationship with Pain de Mie. In fact, it made me fall in love with it.
“Mie” means crumb in French. And indeed, this “Bread of the Crumb” title calls attention to the almost-absent crust on this bread, and its particularly tight crumb – which contrasts with the crunchy crusts and airy crumbs you find in most French breads, such as baguettes, boules and rustic loaves.
As I mentioned, Pain de Mie is sold in every French supermarket and grocery store, sliced and packaged. If you sneak into the cupboards of any given French kicthen (in any region of France), chances are you will find a package or two of this Pain de Mie. It is beloved for its mild taste and soft and creamy texture, which makes it very versatile and perfect for breakfast toasts, sandwiches, fancy french toasts, canapes or even soup croutons. Its original square shape also makes it ideal for preparing a cheesy croque-monsieur or a croque-madame (which is the same as a croque-monsieur, but with an egg on top!).
It is also particularly enjoyed by French housewives, because it keeps fresher longer than French-bakery breads, owing to the fat in it (from the oil and milk), which other French breads usually lack. It keeps very well inside its package, for up to a week, and freezes well too.
This recipe is so simple yet great. It gives you the same softness and creaminess as any store-bought French Pain de Mie, but with a much fresher taste of course. We’ve been making a loaf of pain de mie every weekend, lately. We prepare the dough on Friday night, let it sit overnight and bake it on Saturday morning. My husband uses it to make sandwiches and to accompany our Sunday stews. And I love it for making French Toast.
Needless to say the loaf is usually all gone by Sunday night (and if any is left, we simply freeze it!).
- For optimum proportions, this recipe requires a scale.
- Pain de Mie is traditionally baked in a lidded Pullman bread pan. The lid constrains the expansion of the the dough and ensures a tighter crumb and perfect square shape. Because I do not have a Pullman pan, I have been making my pain de mie in a regular loaf pan (with no lid). And I am happy to say, although the top has some room to rise and crack, this recipe still produces a very tight and creamy crumb, with a paper-thin soft crust.
- This recipe is very easy to make, and you do not require a stand mixer. Although you can use one if you wish.
- The dough should be prepared the day before, and be allowed to sit overnight in a fridge. This creates a slow rise, with a lot more flavour!
If you try this Classic Pain de mie, let me know! Leave a comment or share a photo using #pardonyourfrench on Instagram.
Classic Pain de MiePrint This
305g warm milk (2%)
30g vegetable oil
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
480g All-Purpose Flour
The day before – In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix all the ingredients together into a ball and knead for just 1 minutes. The ball should be soft and slightly sticky, but become smooth as you knead it.
Place the dough in a covered container (a big lidded pot or a bowl with plastic wrap). and place in your fridge overnight.
The morning of – Take the dough out of the fridge 1hr before using it (it should have doubled in size). Punch the air out of the dough, shape it quickly into a loaf and place into a greased/oiled loaf pan.
Let rise for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the loaf in the middle rack of oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take a sheet of foil and lightly drape it over the loaf and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
Let cool on a rack for 20 minutes and remove from the pan.