Yesterday was one of those perfect summer days on Denman Island–it was the kind of day you think of when your guided meditation compels you to mentally transport yourself to your ideal imaginary spot of peacefulness and tranquility. (Now, I don’t actually DO this…in fact, meditation is something that continues to elude me because….IT’S SO BORING! But in my younger days, I used to TRY to meditate, and I would use guided meditations so my mind wouldn’t wander).
The temperature was a lovely 18 degrees with a very slight breeze, so we started the day with a long paddle around Chrome Island–the lighthouse island at the tip of Denman. We paused for lunch in a little bay and ate delicious avocado-cucumber-onion-tomato-lettuce sammies made on my no-knead sprouted-spelt-whole-wheat-oat-quinoa-sunflower-seed bread and drank coffee from thermoses. We finished our meal with a couple of my new energy bites (which James still claims ARE NOT cookies even though he was starving!).
We were out for a good three hours though and the sun was shining rather relentlessly, so we arrived home exhausted from the exertion and the sun. James wandered off to his workshop to work on a walking stick he’s making for Paul (who actually has no trouble walking, but he brought James a giant stick to carve earlier in the summer). He’s carving various sea creatures onto the stick–an orca at the top (as you can see) and otters, star fish, seals, and an eagle.
And I set about making a couple of batches of my no-knead bread and puttering a bit in the deck garden. We later had a quick dinner of Sideways Burgers and air-fried taters…
…and then walked the pups around the neighbourhood for a bit.
….after which we soaked our aching shoulders in an outdoor bubble bath.
A perfect end to an absolutely perfect day.
When I was mucking about with my bread batching in the afternoon, I decided to adjust my no-knead sprouted-spelt-whole-wheat-oat-quinoa-sunflower-seed bread because, while it is an ideal sandwich bread, the loaves were a little too structured and dense. Plus, I was making the loaves in a round covered casserole to keep the crust soft for sandwiches, so the sammie slices didn’t always match!
So, first, I made a couple of adjustments–I increased the water from 3.25 cups to 3 and 2/3 cups. I also halved the vital wheat gluten. The result was a much shaggier dough, which is what I was after because I wanted a loaf that took on the dimensions of its pan rather than retaining the shape I rolled it into (if that makes sense).
My friends at Amazon had recently sent me a Pullman pan…
…so I thought I’d give that a try.
Now I always assumed a Pullman pan was so named because of its resemblance to a train car. How wrong I was! Indeed, the Pullman pan was used in the compact kitchens of Pullman dining cars to maximize space. It’s also called a “pain de mie” or “soft bread” pan.
And further, according to Joe Pastry,
“….baking in a Pullman pan is also functionally different from baking in an open-topped loaf pan. In an open-topped pan the bread can expand freely. Not so in a Pullman pan, at least one that’s been loaded properly. There the rise of the loaf is constrained, not a lot but a little, and that tends to keep large bubbles from forming, so the crumb of the bread is fine and tight.
“Just another aesthetic thing? No not really, as sandwich bread with big holes in it can be perilous for the sandwich eater, especially if he’s wearing an expensive tie. Tight holes keep condiments in and soak up melted butter, which make Pullman sandwiches and toasts more civilized experiences with a smaller dry cleaning bills. And really the eating experience is different too since texture effects mouthfeel and flavor.
And speaking of texture, the main reason Pullman pans were first invented in Europe was to do away with crust. I know what you’re thinking: quelle horreur! There were once Europeans who baked bread without crust? On purpose?? Indeed there were, and still are. Think of Pullman loaves like pain de mie as a special-purpose bread where crust isn’t welcome.
Again, consider sandwiches. Lots of people like to try to dress up sandwiches by using hearty country loaves or baguettes. It’s a nice idea, but try biting through one of those. You end up clamping down on one end of the sandwich with your teeth and pulling with both hands on the other. When the portion in your hands suddenly comes loose the fillings go flying in the opposite direction, onto your dining partner and we’ve got cleaning bills again.
No, a pleasant eat-able sandwich is soft all the way around. This is what the Euros were thinking when they invented the lidded loaf pan about 150 years ago.”
So…FINALLY, I give you….
The Healthy Pain de Mie!
- 3 2/3 cups warm water
- 1 TBS yeast
- 1 TBS sea salt
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup quinoa (or quinoa flakes)
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Leave for half an hour. Next add…
- 2 cups sprouted spelt flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 TBS vital wheat gluten
Mix until no dry flour appears and put into a large jug.
The dough will be very shaggy. Leave on the counter until the dough has risen to the top of the jug. Place in the fridge until you fancy a loaf of bread. The recipe should make about four-and-a-bit pounds of dough–enough for three sandwich loaves.
Now, when you want a sandwich loaf, scoop out about a pound and a half of the dough and place in the Pullman pan; cover and allow to rise until it achieves room temperature.
Bake for thirty-five to forty minutes–until an internal temperature of 207 degrees is achieved.
Ideally, the dough would rise right to the top and the resulting loaf would be perfectly flat, but it’s pretty amazing just as it is! And, though soft, the loaf is structured enough to allow a very thin slice–delicious toasted with a bit of peanut butter and date syrup!
And time for a reprise of my favourite Lou Reed song, “Perfect Day”…
Oh, it’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you…