Traveling by railway at the end of the 1800’s and into the early 1900’s was considered by many the golden age of rail travel. Many crossed the county-side in a Pullman car wearing their finest attire. The railway travelers were usually businessmen and patrons of the arts who were well-schooled in politics. These men and women would mingle in the club car discussing the finer points of life sipping cocktails while picturesque farmlands and landscapes whisked past them in the distance. This is where the Pullman’s Loaf got its start in American culinary tradition. It is a square loaf with a very thin tender crust used to make sandwiches.
Many attribute the popularity of the perfectly square Pullman’s Loaf to the era of railway travel, not only because it fit better in the space of the club car kitchen, but also because it was ideal for professional-looking canopies, finger sandwiches, and toast tips. According to the food Historian Elisabeth David, despite this bread’s strong ties to the railway Pullman car, it began historically in Europe in the early 1800s. Bakers used square pans with a sliding lid to create loaves of bread with a minimal steamed crust and delicate texture. This bread was called “pain de mie,” meaning the crumb on the inside was more important than the crust. It quickly became the bread of choice for canapes, croutons, bread crumbs, and toast to be served with the finest tea in Europe. Our baker’s formulation makes 13 loaves of this bread. If you’re looking to make one loaf, you can use our Home Baker’s version below.
Straight Dough Method
Scale: ingredients according to formulation.
Mix: in a 30-quart mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix all ingredients on medium speed 3-5 minutes.
Raise: 1 hour at 85°F. Punch down.
Pan Prep: Lightly grease 13 13″ by 4” Pullman’s Loaf pans.
Scale loaves: 2lb 2 oz.
Molding: Form into 13-inch logs and place in greased pans.
Proofing: Uncovered in proof box 50% humidity and 80°F 45-55 minutes.
Baking: Close pans. Bake in a Convection oven 325°F 25 minutes. Remove pan lids. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until internal temperature of over 190°F.
Cool: Cool 10-15 minutes in pans. Transfer to cooling racks and cool completely before slicing and bagging. Shelf-life 2-3 days. Freezer up to 3 months.
2/3 cup 2%Milk
1 cup Lukewarm Water
6 Tbsp. Butter, melted
2 tsp Salt
3 Tbsp. Sugar
4 ½ cups Panhandle Milling Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Instant Yeast