Learning how to make pain de mie wasn’t at the top of my list until I saw Christophe Felder’s version, with chocolate chips and candied orange peel. It’s hard to resist the chocolate-orange combo. And even if you are not a fan of these flavors, this recipe is so easy to adapt to your needs. Start off with the bread base and add anything you want: nuts, raisins, cranberries.
- Mix the warm liquid with the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, sugar and salt).
- Add the softened butter and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- First rise: Let the dough rise until doubled in volume (about 1 hour 30 minutes).
- Shape the dough and place it in the loaf pan.
- Second rise: Let the dough rise in the pan until doubled in volume.
- Bake the loaf.
If you want to know why we do a certain step, such as why the butter isn’t added from the beginning, why the dough becomes elastic etc., head over to the pain au lait post.
Pain De Mie Ingredients
The ingredients are the same as those used when making pain au lait and Vienna bread. What changes are the proportions. Let’s quickly go through each ingredient to see what their role is in the recipe.
In this recipe, we’ll be using all-purpose flour. The proteins in flour (glutenin and gliadin) will form gluten when in contact with water and will give the dough its elasticity and strength. Higher protein flour, such as bread flour, will give the bread a stronger and chewier texture. While gluten formed using cake flour, with a lower protein content, will be weaker. The type of grain used is very important. For proper gluten development, wheat flour should be used. Oat and buckwheat flour, for example, will not form any gluten at all.
Without a proper gluten network, the gas bubbles created by the yeast will just escape and the dough won’t rise, leading to dense bread1.
Milk, composed mainly of water (85-89 %), will hydrate the dough and contribute to gluten development. It will also dissolve the yeast and allow you to combine all the ingredients together to form a dough. It will add richness to the dough from the fat content in milk. And produce a fine crumb (small air bubbles) with a soft, brown crust.
We will be using instant yeast in this recipe. But you can use fresh yeast if you prefer (15 g) or active dry yeast (8 g). If using active dry yeast, you should dissolve it in the warm milk before adding it to the dry ingredients.
Butter is added to the dough for richness, flavor and for a softer texture. It interferes however with gluten formation. So butter will be added after all the ingredients have been properly mixed together. It should be softened at room temperature so that it is easily incorporated in the dough.
We’ll be using just a little bit of sugar in this dough, for a hint of sweetness. The sugar will also be a source of food for the yeast.
Salt is added for flavor but will also strengthen the gluten network formed. The dough can be stretched more without tearing. It also has an effect on yeast. If too much salt is used, the dough won’t rise as much. And if too little salt is used, the yeast will feed on the sugar too quickly. The dough will rapidly grow, compromising the flavor and texture of the bread. The amount of salt used is generally between 1.8 and 2.2% of the flour weight. It is recommended never to add the salt directly on the yeast.
How To Make Pain De Mie
Okay, time to make the pain de mie! If you’ve been following the easy bread baking calendar, you probably know exactly what to do now. But let’s go through some step-by-step pictures together.
Mixing the dough
- Warm the milk until lukewarm (about 43°C/110°F).
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Don’t place the yeast immediately on the salt.
- Add the warm milk to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. The dough will initially look dry but will come together as you keep mixing. You can mix the dough using a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment or knead by hand.
Adding the butter
- Add the softened butter and mix on low speed until the butter is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. You can test the elasticity of the dough by gently pulling it. If it rips, it’s not ready yet, keep mixing.
Kneading the dough by hand
- Add the chocolate chips and candied fruit peel and knead by hand until combined and evenly spread throughout the dough.
Tip: Refrigerate the chocolate chips before using them so they don’t melt when you are kneading the dough.
It’s best to mix in additional, chunky ingredients such as chocolate chips, nuts, by hand (or on very low speed). Why? 1) To keep the ingredients intact. 2) Chunky ingredients mixed in at high speed can cut through the gluten network and destroy the bonds formed. The gluten structure will be less prone to damage through gentle mixing2.
- First rise: Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover and let it rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour 30 minutes. This might take more or less, depending on how hot your kitchen is, how long you mixed etc.
Shaping the pain de mie
- Brush the loaf pan with melted butter and set aside.
- Lightly flour your work surface and transfer the dough.
- Using the palm of your hand, flatten the dough into a rectangle. You can use you loaf pan as a guide. The length of the rectangle should be very slightly smaller than the length of the pan. Try to flatten the dough evenly but don’t worry too much if the rectangle isn’t perfect.
- Bring one long side of the rectangle towards the middle and gently press to seal.
- Bring the other long side of the dough to the middle and seal with your fingertips.
- Shape the dough into a log by folding the dough lengthwise in two.
- Place the dough in the pan, seam side down.
- Gently press the dough down into the pan, trying to fill any gaps.
- Second rise: Cover and let it rise for about 1 hour and 30 minutes or until doubled in volume.
Baking the pain de mie
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F), conventional setting and place the oven tray in the bottom third of the oven (level 2 out of 5 for example).
- Bake the pain de mie, uncovered, on the preheated oven tray for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. A digital thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf should register about 88°C (190°F).
If you find that the top of the pain de mie is browning too quickly, cover loosely with parchment paper and continue baking. Be sure to bake in the lower third of the oven.
- Transfer the pain de mie to a wire rack and let it cool slightly, before removing it from the pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, if desired, for a softer crust. It’s best to let the pain de mie cool completely on a wire rack, before slicing and serving.
Tips For Slicing Pain De Mie
Slicing pain de mie is probably the toughest part of the recipe! But if you follow these two tips, you shouldn’t have any issues.
1) Wait for the pain de mie to cool down
My kids show up every 5 minutes when I’m baking bread to see if it’s ready! So I admit I don’t always wait for it to cool down properly before slicing it. But warm bread is quite fragile and you might crush it while trying to cut it. It is also more likely to fall apart when sliced. Cutting the bread when it is still warm will also cause the steam to quickly escape which might lead to a slightly drier bread.
2) Use a long serrated knife
To cut neat slices with an even thickness, it’s best to use a long knife that is quite sharp. Set your bread on a wooden chopping board (or any flat surface that won’t get ruined by the knife) and start cutting in a sawing motion. Just keep going back and forth until you cut a slice and make sure not to press too hard on the bread.
And that’s it! You now have freshly baked pain de mie with a sweet twist! Let me know if you tried the chocolate-orange combo or if you added something else! I hope you’ll love it!
In case you missed it, head over to the easy bread calendar to see what else we will be learning this month.
You Might Also Like
1Figoni, P. (2011). How Baking Works (3rd ed.). Wiley.
2Suas, M. (2008). Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach (1st ed.). Delmar Cengage Learning.
3Felder, C. (2014). Patisserie: Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry (4th ed.) Rizzoli.