Pain de Mie with a Starter

Although pain de mie is not a traditional American bread, it's the French interpretation of an English pan bread, which is the antecedent of our American pan breads. A biga, which is an Italian pre-fermented dough that adds flavor and character to an otherwise ordinary bread dough, was used to create this version of the pain de mie.
Prep
15 mins
Bake
45 mins
Total
11 hrs
Yield
13" x 4" x 4" pain de mie pan
Pain de Mie with a Starter

Instructions

  1. To make the starter: In a small mixing bowl, combine all of the starter ingredients, cover, and set aside for 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. To make the dough: Combine the starter with the dough ingredients — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until the dough becomes cohesive and begins to leave the sides of the bowl. It will still be sticky but become smooth and slightly bouncy.
  3. Lightly grease a bowl, place the dough in it, cover, and let it rest/rise for about 45 minutes.
  4. Take out the dough, gently deflate it by folding it in onto itself, turn it over, and place it back in the bowl. Let it continue to rise for a further 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. When the dough has finished rising, take it out of the bowl and place it on lightly floured surface.
  6. Lightly grease the bottom and inside lid of a 13" pain de mie pan.
  7. Shape the dough into a log and place it in the pan.
  8. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to rise to just before the dough gets to the top edge of the pan.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  10. Remove the plastic, and place the pain de mie cover, which has been greased on the bottom side, gently onto the pan.
  11. Bake the bread for 45 minutes. The bread is done when its internal temperature registers 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  12. Turn the bread out onto a rack and cool it completely.
  13. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Tips from our Bakers

  • We call for a pain de mie pan in this recipe because to make "official" pain de mie, you really do need this covered, straight-sided pan. However, you can also bake the loaf in a 10" x 5" (best choice) or 9" x 5" (last choice) loaf pan, though it won't have pain de mie's signature fine-crumbed texture and boxcar shape.
  • If you wish, you can take the bread out of the pan 10 minutes before it's done and return it to the oven so the sides and bottom will brown more evenly.
  • You can use 1/2 ounce leftover biga starter (from a past loaf) instead of the instant yeast.