Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Astonishingly square sandwich loaf

Some things seem more impressive than they deserve to be. A pullman loaf is a very square loaf of bread, but there's nothing tricky about it - you just need a pullman pan to bake the bread in.

The pan has a top that slides on to cover the loaf so the bread takes on the square shape. It also has a slightly finer crumb because it's compressed a bit since it can't rise as much as it wants to.

Besides being great for sandwiches, it's a good loaf when you want to trim the crust off and just use the soft insides - since it's so square, you can trim off the crust without losing much of the soft inside.

This is a pretty basic buttery loaf, but it's darned good.

I used Platinum yeast here, but you can use instant instead.

Buttery Pullman Loaf

1 cup lukewarm water
1 egg
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) Red Star Platinum yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pound bread flour (slightly more than 3 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine all the ingredients except the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cut the butter into a few chunks and add it to the dough. It will incorporate faster if the butter is at room temperature, but the stand mixer will have no trouble incorporating it, even if the butter is refrigerator-cold. Knead until the butter is completely incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about an hour.

When the dough has risen, flour your work surface lightly, spray the inside of the pullman pan with baking spray. Make sure to spray the inside of the top piece as well. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Turn out the dough and form it into a log that will fit the pan. Place the dough into the pan, seam-side down. Put the lid on the pan and set aside to rise until the dough is nearly at the top of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Bake the bread - with the lid still closed - until the bread is nicely browned, about 45 minutes.

Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.