I picked up a pullman loaf pan yesterday at our local bakery supply shop for less than 3 dollars (85 baht). They sell on Amazon for about $23, and I’m sure you get free one day shipping, or maybe a small drone drops it in your driveway. I don’t know any more. Back up a bit. First, what is a pullman pan? And why would I want to pay $23 for one, even if it does come via drone strike.
Well, I didn’t know what a pullman pan was either. I kept seeing these odd looking pans with tops that slide over the opening. I just ignored them and it looked like everyone else was as well. I was curious though–I mean week after week I kept looking at these pans and I was sure that one of them would fall off the shelf and hit me on the head.
Saturday I went to the Bakerymart in Chiang Mai, a nice little shop that even sells Kitchen Aid stand mixers (for 900 USD!), so I picked up one of those odd pans and asked my wife.
“What is this?”
“Makes bread square,” she said.
“Bread is already square,” I told her.
But is bread really square? No, it’s not. It’s a bit between, in that gray area–not quite square and not at all round.
You need to know something about Thai people–Thus the inclusion of these pans in the shop, and not just one but dozens of them. In their minds bread can only exist in a square state, not in the in between state that we see it in. Thai’s are not weird, that’s just the way they see things. In the end the square (or rectangle) bread sells, and the in between bread sits lonely on a shelf until it’s moldy and tossed away, for being–different. That is Thai society in a nutshell, so get used to it if you ever want to live here, conform or else sit on a lonely shelf.
Here’s the recipe for one 9x4x4 loaf
Pullman Bread Loaf
3 cups flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
Gently heat your milk water mixture and sugar, then add the yeast. Let this sit for a good 10 minutes. Mix 2 1/2 cups of your flour and the salt in a bowl. Add the warm milk and mix with a wooden spoon or your clean hands. Add the soft butter and the rest of your flour and knead for about 10 minutes. let the dough rise for an hour.
Shape the dough ( I use the folded letter method) and place it in the pan making sure you press gently on the dough to fill in the corners.
Let the dough rise again for about 1 hour. At the end of the rise the dough should be close to the top of the pan. If not let it rise another 15 minutes. When you’re ready to bake close the pullman lid. Bake for about 12 minutes covered, and then take the lid off and bake for another 12-15 minutes. 190 c for the first 12 minutes and then lower the temperature to 160 c. When the bread is finished baking, it should slide out pretty easy. Let it cool before you cut it.
Actually, I must say that it’s pretty good bread. The covering gives it a tightness and you will have few if any air bubbles. That’s the thing about a sandwich loaf, you want it to taste good (sure) and you don’t really need the holes unless you want to eat your sandwich over the sink (note: if you’re a single man in his 40’s–who gives a sh*t, really!)