Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Pullman Bread: Mellow Bakers

The final bread in the Mellow Bakers’ lineup for January is Pullman Bread. Pullman Bread gets its name from it’s former use on the long distance Pullman trains in the United States. In France, however, it is referred to as pain de mie, or “bread of crumb,” because it has very little crust. It is usually baked in a rectangular straight-sided pullman pan which gives it a firm crust and a delicious crumb.  It makes excellent toast!

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Most of the Pullman Breads that I’ve seen are made with all white bread flour and are similar to the Simple Milk Loaf I made a few days ago. However, I have seen a few versions that include a portion of whole wheat flour in addition to the white bread flour. Since I had just made an all white sandwich bread, I wanted something different. So I made my version using white bread flour and about 35% clear flour.

Clear flour is flour that clears the first sifting (to separate out the bran and germ).  It still retains some of the finer bran fiber from the outer endosperm of the wheat berry and is thus coarser and contains higher levels of ash. It is usually made from very strong, high-protein wheat. I used whole wheat flour home-milled from hard red spring wheat for this bread. Hard red spring wheat has a higher level of protein than hard red winter wheat due to the shorter growing season.

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Here is the sifted bran. I saved it for use in another recipe.  

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Light Wheat Pullman Bread

Adapted from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman

Makes: 1 pullman loaf with dough left over for 1 small loaf


  • 4 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour (sifted once to remove the bran)
  • 5 tablespoons milk powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 – 2 7/8 cups water (lukewarm)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 1/4 instant or active dry yeast



Mixing: Mix all of the ingredients in a spiral mixer until they are thoroughly incorporated.  The dough consistency should be medium.  You want to develop a fairly strong gluten network.  Desired dough temperature is 78 to 80 degrees F.

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Bulk Fermentation: Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a linen towel and let it ferment in the bowl for 2 hours. Fold the dough once, after 1 hour of fermentation. 

This is the dough after 1 hour of fermentation.  I folded the dough and put it back in the bowl.

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I was doing other things while the dough was fermenting so I let it ferment a little bit longer than the suggested 2 hours.  This is what the dough looked like after 2 1/4 hours. Oops!

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Dividing and Shaping: Divide the dough into appropriate-sized pieces. My pullman pan measures 13 by 3-1/4 by 3-3/4 inches so I used 2.25 pounds of dough and had about 1 pound or so left over.  I preshaped two pieces (one big and one small) into rounds, covered them with plastic, and let them rest on an unfloured counter for about 15 to 20 minutes.

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Then I shaped the big round into a long cylinder with no tapers at the ends.

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I placed the dough in the pullman pan to rise.  The dough came about halfway up the sides.  Maybe a little bit more.

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I slid the lid on it and hoped for the best.  I put it in the oven with the light on to rise for about an hour to an hour and a half as the recipe suggested.

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Well, it rose all right. Right out of the pan. It didn’t take an hour. It oozed out of the lid and made a big mess.  Fortunately, I had greased the pan and lid really well so the clean up was fairly easy. After I had removed the sunken dough from the pan, I reshaped it and put it back in the pan to rise. I figured I might as well try it and see what happened.

In the meantime, I had shaped the smaller dough ball into an oval shape (sort of).

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It rose really well so I scored it and let it rest on the counter while the oven preheated to 400 degrees F.

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When the oven had preheated, I placed the loaf on the middle rack with a steam pan underneath. 

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I baked the loaf until it was golden brown and sounded hollow when thumped on the bottom.  It was delicious!

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Now, it was time to check the pullman bread again to see if it had risen enough but not too much this time.  It’s supposed to rise within 1/2 inch from the top of the pan.  There you go…

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I slid the lid back on and baked the loaf at 400 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes.  Then, I slid the lid off to see if it had an even golden brown color all around and a perfectly even crust.  Voila!

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I removed the loaf from the pan as soon as I took it out of the oven.  If you leave these loaves in the pans, they will sweat from condensation and that would mess up the nice firm crust.

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After the loaf had cooled, I cut it into slices and put the slices into two bags.  It’s a long bread so it made about 24 slices.  I froze one bag and I’ve been enjoying the other pieces toasted with jam for breakfast.  I’ve also had a slice or two with peanut butter. It passed the test!

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This was a very forgiving dough. It performed well even when I overproofed it.  It has a terrific flavor.  This is definitely a keeper.  My taste tester really liked it as well.


This bread has been YeastSpotted. Please visit Wild Yeast to view all of the lovely breads in the roundup.

The Mellow Bakers are baking breads from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman. Feel free to join us.


Thanks for visiting the Bread Experience bread-baking blog.  I hope you’ll join me again soon.

Happy Baking!

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