It has taken me years and many failed attempts to bake bread. Good bread, edible bread. Bread that was uniform in results time after time… I made headway when I received the book “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” however sometimes I longed for nice square bread without a top crust of sorts, and free-form loaves are all about the delicious crust, don’t get me wrong. However, wrapping/packing sandwiches made from said bread loaves can be a bit “interesting” and sandwiches are usually just too large.
Then I saw a Pullman Loaf Pan and realized indeed- it takes the right tools for the right job. After a couple recipes and adjustments, I am now at that point where I can (almost) safely say that the results will be consistent time and time again. Sandwich Heaven. Toast Nirvana. Nice square bread with a uniform “crust” all the way around. Perfectly sized sandwiches.
The following is my recipe for making a 2.75 lb loaf. My pan is made by USA Pan and come in two sizes- I like and use the large. The sliding lid not only steams the bread while it bakes, but prevents it from getting too dark or dry on top.
The pan is great for bread, meatloaf, and makes a killer loaf of banana bread, but that recipe is for a future post.
I weigh most of my dry ingredients, so if you do not currently have a kitchen scale go and get one now. I also grind the grains right before baking for ultimate freshness, and use a Kitchen Aid mixer as my kneading workhorse.
12 oz. hard wheat flour (or 24 oz total without other grains)
6 oz. rye flour
6 oz. spelt flour
2 tbs. salt
2 tbs. yeast
¼ cup honey (or 2 oz sugar)
¼ cup kefir or yogurt
1 stick melted butter
16 oz warm water
2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
Olive oil for preparing the pan
Place dry ingredients in mixer bowl with dough hook attachment. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients and add to dry.
Mix at low speed for 5 minutes, until dough starts to look stretchy. This will be a wetter-than-usual dough, which makes a nice light loaf.
When dough is mixed, remove dough hook and cover with cloth till doubled in bulk.
Prepare Pullman pan by lightly oiling the pan and lid.
When dough is doubled in size, flour your hands and lightly dust the dough. Lift dough, gathering it up into a log and gently manipulate it into a rectangle, placing it in the pan. Gently press dough down the center and into the corners of the pan.
Put the lid on the pan and allow dough to rise till an inch from the top of the pan. Keep checking the dough, if it rises too high before baking it will squirt out the ends of the pan!
When the dough is an inch from the top, preheat oven to 350F. If your oven is slower, begin preheating earlier. You will put the bread in the open when the dough is almost at the top of the pan.
Bake bread with lid closed for 40 minutes. Check internal temperature of loaf, aiming for 190F for doneness.
Remove bread from oven, turn from pan onto cooling rack.
Bread slices nice and thin, toast is almost cake-like in crumb. I cut the cooled loaf in half and put both pieces, sideways, in a gallon-sized food bag and keep in in the refrigerator.