Pullman's Loaf Sandwich Bread Formulation
Updated: May 21
What is a Pullman's Loaf?
Traveling by railway at the end of the 1800’s and into the early 1900’s was considered by many the golden age of rail travel. Many crossed the county-side in a Pullman car wearing their finest attire. The railway travelers were usually businessmen and patrons of the arts who were well-schooled in politics. These men and women would mingle in the club car discussing the finer points of life sipping cocktails while picturesque farmlands and landscapes whisked past them in the distance. This is where the Pullman's Loaf got its start in American culinary tradition. It is a square loaf with a very thin tender crust used to make sandwiches.
Why a Square Loaf?
Many attribute the popularity of the perfectly square Pullman’s Loaf to this era of railway travel, not only because it fit better in the space of the club car kitchen, but also because it was ideal for professional looking canopies, finger sandwiches, and toast tips. The bread had a light texture and exceptional crumb. At the time, it was considered some of the finest bread in the country.
According to the food Historian Elisabeth David, despite this bread’s strong ties to the railway Pullman car, it actually began historically in the early 1800’s in Europe. Bakers there were using square pans with a sliding lid to create loaves of bread with a steamed minimal crust and fine texture. This bread was called “pain de mie”, meaning the crumb on the inside was more important than the crust. In Europe it quickly became the bread of choice for canapes, croutons, bread crumbs and toast to be served with the finest tea.
Our baker's formulation makes 13 loaves of this bread. If you're looking to just make one loaf, you can use our Home Baker's version below.
Procedure: Straight Dough Method
Scale: ingredients according to formulation.
Mix: in a 30-quart mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix all ingredients on medium speed 3-5 minutes.
Raise: 1 hour at 85°F. Punch down.
Pan Prep: Lightly grease 13 13" by 4” Pullman’s Loaf pans.
Scale loaves: 2lb 2 oz.
Molding: Form into 13-inch logs and place in greased pans.
Proofing: Uncovered proof box 50% humidity and 80°F 45-55 minutes.
Baking: Close pans. Bake in a Convection oven 325°F 25 minutes. Remove pan lids. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until internal temperature of over 190°F.
Cool: Cool 10-15 minutes in pans. Transfer to cooling racks and cool completely before slicing and bagging. Shelf-life 2-3 days. Freezer up to 3 months.
Home Baker's Pullman’s Sandwich Bread
2/3 cup 2% Milk
1 cup Lukewarm Water
6 Tbsp. Butter, melted
2 tsp Salt
3 Tbsp. Sugar
2 tsp. Instant Yeast
In a 2-quart mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine all the ingredients. Knead 3-4 minutes until a soft smooth dough is formed.
Raise dough in a lightly oiled raising bowl or bucket for about 1 hour, until almost doubled in size.
Lightly grease a 13" by 4” Pullman’s Loaf pan. Deflate the dough and form into a 13 inch log and fit it into the pan. Allow to raise until the dough is just below the lip (45 min to an hour) at 85°F.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cover on the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove the lid and bake 20 minutes more until a digital thermometer inserted into the center registers at least 190°F.
Remove from the pan and cool completely. Store wrapped.