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The best bread for thin-slicing is called pain de mie, a butter- and milk-rich loaf baked in a special lidded pan (often called a Pullman pan, just to make things confusing!) The lid ensures that the baking bread won't expand too much, keeping it very close-grained-and thus totally non-crumbly, and easy to slice.
1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm milk
1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
1/3 cup (2 ounces) potato flour or 1 cup (2 1/4 ounces) potato flakes (not buds; flakes)
5 cups (21 ounces) King Arthur 100% Organic White Whole Wheat Flour*
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
*For the very best results, we recommend our organic white whole wheat flour. Barring that, choose our regular white whole wheat flour. Using a traditional whole wheat flour, one milled from red wheat, won't give you nearly the nice results that white whole wheat flour will.
Combine all of the ingredients, and mix and knead themby hand, mixer, or bread machineto form a smooth, supple dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Lightly grease a standard (13" x 4" x 4") lidded pain de mie (pullman) pan. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, shape it into a log, and fit it into the pan. Flatten the top as much as possible. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until it's about 1/2" below the lip of the pan, about 45 minutes.
Carefully slip the cover onto the pan, and let it rest an additional 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake the bread for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove the lid, and return the bread to the oven to bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until it's golden-brown on top and tests done; an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely. For a soft, flavorful crust, brush the loaf with melted butter while warm. Yield: 1 loaf.