Pain de mie - literally crumb-bread, i.e. without crust - was first made to satisfy the demands of tourists from Britain or America who found French loaves too crusty, too rustic and perhaps too tasty. All that was in the early years of this century. Now the French, too, have been convinced of the utility of this loaf: at least for some sandwiches and delicate little canapés. Generally, however, they remain wedded to their baguette.
In the days when bread prices were fixed by government decree and profits were minimal, some bakers begrudged the expensive ingredients such as milk and butter that soften the texture of this loaf and keep it looking white. They used instead grated raw potato.
To keep the crust as thin and soft as possible, this loaf is cooked in a covered pan, just as are Scottish tin loaves and the square English sandwich loaves. Without going to the expense of buying a special tin, simply cover a normal bread tin with an oiled baking sheet and put a
© 2005 Tom Jaine. All rights reserved.