I started baking pain de mie or pullman bread loaves at home because I miss eating cafe-style thick slices of toast topped with butter, sugar and condensed milk. This style of bread is very popular in parts of Asia, including Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The slice of toast is almost three times as thick a standard bread slice, and it is surely a decadent treat.
Breads are easy to make at home. Once you get the hang of it, all you have to do is mix the ingredients and wait. Let the dough rise, and then punch it down. Requiring little hands on time, it is perfect for days when you have to multitask but still feel like baking something for your family. Making your own bread also means that you will avoid the artificial leaveners and preservatives used in many commercial breads in the supermarket.
Here is one of my favorite pain de mie recipes, adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook:
Pain de Mie, Pullman Bread
1 1/2 pounds (about 4/12 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
3 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
Vegetable oil, for oiling the bowl and pan
In the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, dry milk, and butter. Add the warm water and beat on low speed until the dough is smooth, elastic and uniform. This will take approximately 5 minutes.
On a lightly floured working surface, turn out the dough and knead by hand about five times. Check to see that all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated and the dough forms a smooth ball. Place the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with cling wrap. Let it rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. If the temperature is correct, this should take about 1 hour. If your house is cold during winter, turn an oven on to about 250 F, then turn it off. Open the oven door to let most of the heat out and place your dough inside the warm oven for the entire rising time.