Pain-au-Lait Pullman Loaf Recipe

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Bouchon Bakery (The Thomas Keller Library)This dough is traditionally made with milk, as the name indicates, but milk results in a slightly drier crumb than we like. So we use cream cheese—a richer dairy product—and water and add some egg for the softening effect it has in the finished bread. And, as with the Brioche, we start with all the ingredients at room temperature.

Pullman loaves, named after the train cars they were designed for (to save space), are baked in special rectangular lidded pans, resulting in a fine, uniform crumb and a soft crust. They are fun because you can cut nice square slices or cut the slices into elegant crustless disks to use for canapes.

  • Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 3¾ cups + 2 tbsp +1 tsp (547 g) All-purpose flour
  • 1¾ tsp (6 g) Instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp (32 g) Granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (11 g) Fine sea salt
  • 1 cup + 3½ tbsp (285 g) Water
  • 2 tbsp + ½ tsp (35 g) Eggs
  • 0.8 oz (25 g) Unsalted butter
  • 2.7 oz (79 g) Cream cheese
  • Egg Wash
How to Make It
  1. Spray a large bowl and the Pullman loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. To mix the Dough
  3. Place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and give it a quick mix on the lowest setting to distribute the yeast evenly. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the egg wash and mix on low speed for 4 minutes. Continue to mix on low for 30 minutes.
  4. Fermentation
  5. The dough is now in the fermentation stage. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Using a bowl scraper, release the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Pat, stretch, and fold the dough and place in the prepared bowl. Cover and set aside.
  6. To Preshape and Shape the Dough
  7. Use the bowl scraper to release the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Gently pat the dough into a rectangular shape, removing any large bubbles and adding flour only as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the board. Trim the dough to a weight of 1 kilogram/2 pounds, 3.2 ounces.
  8. Preshape long and let rest for 5 minutes.
  9. Shape for a Pullman as close to the length of the pan as possible and lay it in the prepared pan. Brush the top with egg wash.
  10. To Proof the Dough
  11. Slide the lid onto the pan, leaving it open about ½ inch so you can see inside, and let proof for 2½to 3 hours, until the dough has nearly reached the top of the pan.
  12. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and place a baking stone on it. Preheat the oven to 375°F (standard).
  13. To Bake Bread
  14. Close the top of the pan, slide it onto the stone, and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the top of the pan and bake for 10 minutes, or until the top is a rich golden brown and the loaf is baked through (a wooden skewer inserted in the center should come out clean).
  15. Turn the bread out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.
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