During the pandemic, I am taking taste-bud journeys as I self-isolate rather than physical journeys. Here is my adapted recipe for baking a half of loaf of bread. In my quest to not waste food, I did an extensive web search to see if any half-loaf bread pans existed. I finally found the CHEFMADE Mini Pullman Loaf Pan with Lid. Thankfully, there was one instructional video on YouTube that explained how to use this pan. So, this half loaf of bread is what resulted from my efforts.
Conclusion: I actually ended up making two loaves since I didn't give the first one enough rising time. Check out how the two loaves compare and what I learned from this effort.
- 1 cup of bread flour
- 1/4 tsp or 1 packet of instant yeast
- 1/4 tsp of fine-grain sea salt
- 5 to 6 oz. of warm water
- Butter to season inside of the Mini Pullman Loaf Pan
In case you're interested, here is the where I purchased this particular pan. This link will open in a new window.
CHEFMADE Mini Pullman Loaf Pan with Lid, 0.55Lb Dough Capacity Non-Stick Rectangle Flat Toast Box for Oven Baking 3.9" x 3.9"x 3.9"(Champagne Gold) from Amazon
- Step 1: In a bowl, put in a cup of flour. On one side of the flour mound, add salt. On the other side of the flour mound, add yeast. Since salt can kill yeast, mix salt into flour. Then, mix yeast into flour. Then, mix entire mixture together.
- Step 2: Warm 5 to 6 ounces of water in microwave about 32 seconds - just long enough to have it be warm but not hot.
- Step 3: Using the stick end of a wooden spoon, stir in just enough of that water that the dough will get all worked in so that a ball is formed and the bowl looks clean. Watch video if this direction is unclear. [FYI - You don't want the dough ball to get too soggy, so add in the water slowly. Most likely, you will have water left. I only had to use a little more than half of my water to get the dough-ball to form.]
- Step 4: If your bowl is small, put plastic wrap across the top and then cover with a clean tea towel. In my case, I had a large plastic container with a lid. I placed the lid on top. Then, I put a pan of very hot water in one side of my oven. Then, I put the lidded bowl on the other side of the rack. Then I closed the oven door on the turned-off oven. That way, the dough will have a nice warm spot to double in size. This first rising will likely take 7 to 12 hours. [FYI - It does not have to be the oven. The point is that you need to find a draft-free location in your home to allow the yeast, which is a living thing, to do its job to help the dough to rise and double in size.]
- Step 5: Ten hours was all my dough-ball needed to double in size. Here is what it looked like.
- Step 6: Use wax paper rubbed in butter, Butter the inside of the loaf pan including the lid. This will not only help the dough to not stick to the pan, it will also help the intended sandwich bread-loaf to not get too crusty.
- Step 7: Sprinkle some flour on a silicone mat. Rub your hands into the flour and then pick up the dough. Manipulate the dough by folding the edges in on itself a few times until you can form it into a smooth ball. You will place this ball into the tin.
- Step 8: Put on the lid. Wrap the loaf pan in a clean tea towel. Then, find a draft-free location other than the oven to allow it to rise for another 90 minutes. Since I did not need my microwave, I placed it in there along with a large measuring cup filled with very hot water. This would help warm the space. Then, I closed the door and set my timer for 75 minutes.
- Step 9: At the 75-minute point, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the dough to continue rising for another 15 minutes.
- Step 10: Take lidded loaf-pan and check for size of dough. My loaf had indeed expanded; however, it wasn't nearly as tall as I expected. See video for reference. In the video, his loaf nearly touched the lid.
- Step 11: Place lidded loaf-pan in oven and bake for 25 minutes.
- Step 12: Allow bread-loaf to cool completely on a rack before slicing. [FYI - It is vital to allow it to cool on a rack rather than inside the tin as it will continue baking if it is still inside the hot pan.]
- Step 13: Okay. Sigh! First loaf did not rise properly. It was really hard to slice as I forgot to massage it with butter after it came out of the oven. I tried a couple of nibbles of that uneven slice. It tasted fairly good; however, the texture was off. So, I did some troubleshooting-research to try to discover possible reasons.
- Googling that question, the first answer found was that I perhaps did not allow the dough sufficient time to rise. Perhaps, instead of cutting off the second-rise time to 90 minutes, I should have allowed it a much, much longer rise time.
- Step 14: Since 'inquiring minds' just had to know, I made the suggested changes and proceeded to bake a comparison-second loaf of bread.
These trouble-shooting links will open in a new window.
- A. First reason mentioned: Yeast might be expired. I checked. My instant yeast was not due to expire until sometime in 2022.
- B. Second reason mentioned: My liquid might have been too hot. That is possible. I will only warm the water in the microwave for 32 seconds next; just in case, that was my big mistake.
- C. Third reason mentioned: Kitchen is too cold. That is very possible as it is February in Decatur, Alabama. I noticed that when I pulled bowl from both oven and microwave, the container full of hot water was quite cool to the touch. So, I will try a different plan the next time.
- D. Fourth reason mentioned: Not enough time to rise. Since I was using bread dough instead of self-rising flour and the space was not as toasty warm as might be necessary, I probably should have allowed a much longer rising time than the video-chef indicated.
- E. Fifth reason mentioned: Not the right size pan. That one does not appear to apply. So, I Googled a bit more to see if I could detect any other helpful clues.
- F. Their fifth suggestion seemed to apply. The article states: 'Use the proper container. The pan, banneton, or tray you use will make a difference. Too large, and the dough has nothing to push against when rising, so won't rise upwards. Instead, it will spread and possibly collapse.'
- G. As you can see from my photos, my dough did indeed seem to expand sideways rather than upward. Therefore, since I am only making a half of a loaf of bread, I will use a much smaller bowl for the first rising.
- H. Kelly suggested that you could run your dryer for a couple of minutes and then place your bread-proofing bowl in there as this space should remain dry and warm for the entire rising time.
- I. I dried an already-dry beach towel in there for exactly two minutes. Then, I placed my much smaller bread-rising bowl that was covered with a greased plastic wrap in there to rise. I set my timer for 6 hours; however, I eagerly checked it at five hours to see what kind of progress it was making and if I needed to rewarm the dryer.
Step 15: So, here are the photos from my second attempt at making this bread. I used a smaller bowl. I only warmed the water in the microwave for 32 seconds. That way, the water was warm and not hot to the touch. I also placed the bread in a dryer inside a warm beach towel that had been dried for ONLY TWO MINUTES. The first rising should take 6 to 12 hours. In my case, it only took five hours to double in size.
Step 16: I checked the dough after 5 hours. I discovered that even though the dryer was now cool, the towel was still a bit warm. Plus, the dough had indeed doubled in size. So, I liberally rubbed the inside of the Pullman Loaf Pan with butter. I put flour on my silicone mat and on my hands. I kneaded out the gas bubbles, folding the dough in on itself, until, in a very short time, it formed into a smooth ball. I placed that dough ball in the tin, added the lid, ran the dryer again. Then, I tucked the tin inside that toasty towel. I set the timer for 90 minutes.
Step 17: At the 90-minute point, the dryer was again cool; however, the towel had maintained some of its warmth. The dough had expanded, but only to the point that the first loaf did. It only filled about the bottom third of the tin. So, I again ran the towel inside the dryer for a couple of minutes. Then, I tucked the tin inside that toasty towel and let another hour go by. At 2 1/2 hours, the dough had now risen to the 2/3's point. Feeling encouraged, I ran the dryer again to reheat the towel. And for the third, and hopefully, last time, I tucked the tin back into the toasty towel.
Step 18: At the 3 and 1/2 hour point, I think the rising was going to be as good as it could get. It had really expanded to fully fill the bottom two-thirds of the pan and possibly a bit higher. Fifteen minutes prior, I began preheating the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. When the oven was fully preheated and the 3 1/2 hour point was reached, I placed the bread in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. I set out some butter to melt on top of the stove in a small plastic container. Once I place the bread on the cooling rack, I will baste all four sides with that butter to prevent the sides from getting too crusty. Notice the comparison shot of the four different stages of rising. Step 19: Here is the finished loaf of bread: 2 1/2 inches tall and almost 4 inches wide. Step 20: After it has cooled completely, here are the bread-slicing and tasting results: it tasted pretty good. Texture was good with the exception of the bottom of the loaf. That part of the loaf was too crusty to cut into - even though I had basted all sides of cooling bread with butter. Since loaf was only 2 1/2 inches tall, I had turned it on its side to slice. My bread-slicing techniques needs lots of improvement. LOL! Step 21: Final note: I intend to make bread cubes and bread crumbs out of the first loaf so as it will not go to waste. I will enjoy the second loaf as is; however, sometime in the near future, I will try again using all-purpose flour to see whether it will act differently from bread flour.
In case you're interested,
the bowl was purchased at Walmart from their pick-up grocery section. Obviously, the bowl will only be helpful if you are planning to make a full loaf or two of bread rather than a half-loaf. Nevertheless, it is a pretty cool bowl that you might find to be a helpful 'kitchen toy.'
Sterilite Ultra•Seal™ 8.1 Qt. Bowl Clear that is 12" L x 12" W x 5 5/8" H from Walmart
Recipe Source plus Instructional video by 'TheGrowGeek' that I followed almost exactly. This video will open in a new window.Visit W3Schools!
Cooking Sites that have inspired me:
Books written by Debbie Dunn:
Here is the Amazon Link to all anti-bullying curriculum books plus all children’s books written by Debbie Dunn (both paperback and Kindle). It will open up in a new window.