Bread baking became the kitchen hobby of the moment during the pandemic. From classic dinner rolls to crusty boule to easy bagels, we learned to whip up a little bit of everything while in quarantine. If you've still got a bundle of yeast in the kitchen to use (or if you just want to polish your bread-making skills), you have hundreds of bread types to choose from. But there's only one bread recipe that took up permanent residence in Julia Child's kitchen: Pain de mie.
Pain de mie is like the classic store-bought sandwich bread you love—only deliciously fresh and warm. It was also a go-to recipe for Child, who kept her recipe in a clipboard in her kitchen cabinet in case of—we can only assume—a bread-baking emergency. You can read the ingredients in Julia's handwriting on the website of the Smithsonian, where a Child's kitchen is preserved.
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To make the bread, you'll need a Pullman loaf pan—this kind of covered pan will force your dough into a perfect rectangle shape, like a loaf of Sunbeam white bread. You can pick up one for 20% off right now at Williams Sonoma (buy it: $40). You might also want a stand mixer to make the dough easier to knead, but as one intrepid food blogger reports, it is possible to make the dough completely by hand.
For the ingredients, you'll need to pick up dairy milk, butter, salt, sugar, flour and yeast. According to Alison of From Fancy to Finger Food, the recipe is pretty simple. You combine one pound of flour with salt and yeast dissolved in warm milk. If you're kneading by hand, you'll likely get in quite a workout flipping, folding and stretching the dough. If you use a stand mixer, it should just take a few minutes of your dough hook at a moderate speed to get the dough ready for its first rise. After the dough triples in size, fold the dough a few times and let it rise in the mixing bowl again. Then shape your dough, place it in your loaf pan and let it rise one more time before heading into the oven. The bread bakes for about 35 minutes at 425°F.
The result will be a fine-crumbed sandwich bread that's perfect for a light sandwich or extra-delicious avocado toast. Use this homemade bread to level-up your next Veggie Grilled Cheese dinner or use a slice for some refreshingly simple cucumber-goat cheese toast. Wrap your bread up tight and store it in the freezer for a longer-lasting loaf. You could even take up Ina Garten's advice and slice the bread into large portions before freezing for easy thawing. No matter what you use your fresh-baked loaf for, it's likely that Child would send you off with the same advice—bon appetit!