Sourdough White Bread (Le Pain de Mie)

white bread

 I came up with a formula for a sourdough white bread. It’s not a very popular bread, but the flavor is amazing. It has a soft crumb and a wonderfully chewy crust. It’s sturdy enough to make a hearty lunch sandwich and toasts up nicely.

Pain de Mie is in the title because the recipe is based off a French white-bread recipe instead of a sweeter American white-bread recipe. The dough has less sugar and fat and doesn’t have any eggs. Traditionally a pain de mie would be baked in a pullman loaf pan — I used the more common regular loaf pan and adjusted the recipe.

The base recipe is from the French Culinary Institute’s bread program. The program has recently published a book named “The Fundamentals Techniques of Classic Bread Baking.” . It’s geared more towards the home-baker than the commercial baker and is full of pictures and recipes from around the world.

Sourdough White Bread

I used thirty percent of the total flour weight for the starter amount. I figured the butter is a fat which counteracts the acid in the starter and I want the dough to rise slightly faster than my pain au levain. If I had time I would have built a liquid start at 125-150 percent hydration to increase the yeast activity. I used a 100 percent hydration starter for this recipe.

*Disclaimer* I actually ran out of bread flour 350g short of the recipe amount. I added 200g of King Arthur AP Flour and 150g of rye flour. The flavor is absolutely excellent and I didn’t need to adjust the hydration of the dough.

Final Dough  Ingredient Amount in grams Dough Percentages
Starter Weight 283 30%
Flour 942 100%
Milk 424 45%
Sugar 38 4%
Salt 19 2%
Butter 94 10%
Total Dough Weight 1800 191%

This recipe makes two 900g loaves. My bread tins are from Sur la Table and seem to hold more dough than most. If you would like to scale the recipe I made an excel spreadsheet that you can scale ingredients with. You can also replace the milk with milk powder and water if you follow the conversion on the milk powder box.

Sourdough White Bread Technique

Start this bread by bringing the starter to room temperature. Add milk, or water and milk powder, to the starter and stir to dissolve. Add flour and sugar and stir until all the flour is hydrated. Give the dough a 15-20 minute autolyse.

Next, stir on low speed for about 2 minutes to develop the gluten further. The dough should be elastic and springy and the sugar should be fully dissolved. If you feel the grittiness of the sugar in the dough continue mixing.

The next step is to add softened butter. My mixer isn’t very large and it doesn’t have the torque to do this well enough, so I do it by hand. Turn the dough out onto an dry surface. Flatten the dough with your palms into a rectangle. Spread the softened butter evenly across the surface of the dough and fold the four sides in like an envelope. Flatten the envelope into a rectangle and fold again. Do this three or four times. If the dough starts to tear or butter squeezes out from the folds it’s fine.

Put the dough back in a mixer and mix on low speed for about 5 minutes or until it clears the sides of the bowl and the gluten is developed enough to create a windowpane.

Form the dough into a rough ball and put it back in the mixing bowl. Cover it, I use a trash bag around the bowl, and ferment until it’s doubled in size. This will probably take 4-5 hours at room temperature. If you don’t have time you can always add a pinch of instant yeast during mixing to help boost the process along, but that’s cheating!

white bread

After the dough doubles, turn it onto a dry surface and fold it to even out the dough temperature. Divide the dough in half, two 900g portions, and gently preshape into a log shape. Bench rest, covered, for 10 minutes.

Final shape into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan. Proof – (final ferment) – covered for about 2 hours or until the dough clears the top of the loaf pan. It should very slowly spring back when you lightly dimple the dough with floured fingers.

If you are baking inside of a pullman loaf pan bake at 425F for 50-60 minutes. If you are using a standard bread-pan, preheat the oven to 425 and lower it to 350 immediately after putting the bread in.

If you don’t have a pullman loaf pan but want to replicate the results: Put 600g of dough into the bread pan. Cover with a greased aluminum sheet pan during the proofing stage. Bake with the sheet pan on top of the loaf and remove it towards the last 5 or so minutes to check for browning and the internal temperature of the loaf.

Try and check me out on YeastSpotting again. 


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  1. otoole
    Posted February 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    At what point did you add the salt? I don’t see that anywhere in the steps.

  2. Posted February 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Hey otoole, good question…

    It’s been quite a while since I’ve baked this, but if I had to guess I would say I added the salt and butter at the same time. I would have tried to developed the gluten as much possible before adding the fat and salt to the dough. Hope this helps.


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