Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie: building a healthier sandwich, one slice at a time

When I first started baking seriously in 1996, I focused on making crusty hearth breads. It wasn’t long, though, before I was I intrigued by other styles of leavened bread as well — including pain de mie, a soft and delicious sandwich bread I discovered while looking through a French baking manual.

Being an organic wood-fired hearth bread baker, I was a bit sheepish being so smitten with a soft-crusted white bread. But pain de mie won me over; it’s undeniably delicious and versatile.

For years I’ve taught pain de mie at the King Arthur Flour Baking School, as well as in my classes at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. The students love it, and my colleagues often request it for sandwiches, canapés, and rich bread crumbs.

Several years ago I became interested in baking with sprouted grains. I amended my original pain de mie formula to make this tasty variation that includes sprouted wheat flour and ground sprouted grains. The result is a loaf that’s still soft and perfect for sandwiches, but also provides the nutrition and flavor of bread made with whole and sprouted grains.

Fresh-sprouted wheat berries + sprouted wheat flour = the perfect loaf for your healthiest sandwiches! Click To Tweet

Pain de mie is easy to make, and it doesn’t require extraordinarily long fermentation times. However, you’ll need to get the sprouts going a few days in advance of your bake day. Here’s how to do it:

Start with 3/4 cup dried red wheat berries; or spelt, emmer, kamut or einkorn berries. Rinse the berries and cover with an inch or two or water. Allow the berries to soak for 36 hours, changing the soaking water after about 12 hours. (I often use a mesh colander inside a stainless bowl to soak the berries).

Then, leaving them in the colander, rinse the berries, shake off the excess water, and place the colander back in the empty bowl. Drape the bowl lightly with plastic, and allow the berries to sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Rinse the berries once or twice, but don’t let them sit in water; you want them to remain damp, neither too wet nor too dry.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Left, perfectly sprouted kamut berries; right, over-sprouted berries.

Rootlets will start to emerge from the berries after about 24 hours. Sprouts are best when the rootlet is no longer than the length of the berry, so try to catch them at just that point. Under-sprouted grain won’t be as sweet and may remain a little chewy; old sprouts get starchy and less flavorful.

By the way, King Arthur’s Sprouted Wheat Flour goes through the same sprouting process I just described, and is then dried and ground into a deliciously nutty flour — making it ideal for this bread. I’ve found sprouted wheat flour absorbs more water than whole wheat flour, so I always increase the hydration when I incorporate it into a formula.

Now that you have your sprouts, you’re ready to bake Sprouted Wheat Pain De Mie. Note that all measurements below are in grams, the most accurate way to measure and your best route to success. If you don’t have a gram scale, see the online recipe for volume/American weight measurements.

290g King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
290g King Arthur Sprouted Wheat Flour
6g instant yeast
15g kosher salt, Morton’s preferred (for most accurate measurement)
23g sugar
29g Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
395g cups water
104g cold unsalted butter, softened
145g sprouted grain berries, ground*
wheat bran, for coating, optional

*For sprouting directions, see our Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie recipe.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

First, soften the butter by pounding it with a rolling pin, not simply by bringing it to room temperature. The butter should be “plasticized,” but not warm; if it’s warm it may melt and make the dough greasy. Perfectly softened butter will easily take the impression of your finger without actually feeling warm.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Grind the sprouts by putting them through a food mill or grinder. It’s important the sprouts are fully ground; a food processor or blender will often leave some hard bits, which are unpleasant in your baked bread. If you have a stand mixer with a food grinder attachment, you can use that.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Combine all the ingredients, except the ground sprouts and butter, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 4 minutes, until everything is well combined.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

It’s important to develop some dough strength before adding any butter. This is often called an intensive mix and is the same mixing method used for mixing brioche. However, pain de mie has a lower butter ratio compared to brioche so it doesn’t need to be mixed as long as brioche.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Increase the mixer speed to medium, and add half the softened butter. Mix for 1 minute. Add the remaining softened butter; mix at medium speed for 5 minutes.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

After all the butter is added and the dough is thoroughly mixed, you’ll have an extensible and well-developed dough.

Add the ground sprouts, mixing until thoroughly incorporated.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Dough immediately after mixing (left), and after 1 1/2 hours of rising (right).

Place the dough in an ungreased container, cover, and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it’s noticeably puffy.

Transfer dough to a very lightly floured work surface and gently deflate.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Now you’re going to shape the dough into a 13″ log. Fold one side over and seal with the whole length of your hand. Turn the dough 180° and repeat.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Seal the seam with the heel of your hand.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

The loaf should be as long as a standard (13” x 4”) lidded pain de mie pan.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Next, roll the shaped dough on a damp towel.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Then roll it in wheat bran. This step is optional, but gives the bread a lovely crust.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Place the log into the pain de mie pan.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Cover the pan, and let the dough rise until it’s about 1/2” from the rim of the pan, about 1 1/2 hours. The distance from the top of the pan is more important than the proofing time.

Towards the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Close the lid on the pan. Bake the bread for 30 minutes.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Remove the lid, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and its interior temperature is at least 190°F at the center.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a baking sheet.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Return it to the oven and bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes to firm up the sidewalls of the loaf.

Sprouted Wheat Pain de Mie via @kingarthurflour

Remove the bread from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Now THAT’S a good-looking loaf of sandwich bread! I see an avocado, oven-roasted tomato, and herbed goat cheese sandwich in my near future. How about you — what are your favorite sandwich fillings?

Richard Miscovich
About

Richard Miscovich teaches artisan bread baking at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, as well as at King Arthur Flour’s baking school and at professional classes and conferences around the country. He’s the author of the book, 'From the Wood-Fired Oven' and instructs the ...

comments

  1. Cheralee Stover

    This is SUCH perfect timing! My order of sprouted grain flour and my Pullman pan arrived today! I am exploring making smaller loaves of bread for my in-laws, who have dietary concerns. KAF has a recipe for a smaller loaf of pain de mie. Would I be able to reduce this recipe based on the other recipe’s reduced ratios? Thank you so much for posting this!!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Eric, just a misprint, sorry. 15g Morton’s kosher salt is how it now reads; since each kosher salt has a slightly different grind, Richard lists Morton’s specifically since that’s what he uses. PJH@KAF

  2. GothamMuse

    Love this idea, and I have a Pullman pan and sprouted wheat flour in house, but no wheat berries. So I’m looking at the whole wheat pan de mie recipe and thinking of subbing in some sprouted wheat for some (all?) of the whole wheat…. or the Bee Keeper’s pan de mie (ooh, how have I never seen that before?!?) and subbing in sprouted wheat for 1/3 – 1/2 of the flour — but your comment about sprouted wheat wanting more water gives me pause. How much more water? Say 10% more liquid? More? Less?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Hydration is seldom black and white, given atmospheric conditions, how each person measures flour, and how the flour’s been stored. So I’d start with the amount of water called for. Once you’ve combined the ingredients, let the dough rest for 20 minutes before kneading; if it seems quite stiff, then sprinkle the dough with water and knead it in, adding more water if necessary to make a soft, smooth, but not overly sticky dough. I think that’s your best bet. PJH@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, that’s correct. Sprouted wheat still comes from a wheat berry, which inherently contains gluten. Kye@KAF

  3. Tejas Prairie Hen

    Could you plz. post American measurements, such as cups, tsps., etc.? Trying to convert grams of various ingredients myself is time-consuming and often inaccurate. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Hi — You’ll find the ingredient amounts in American volume measurements, American weights, and metric weights in the online recipe. Just toggle to the display you want at the top of the ingredient list. Enjoy — PJH@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel

      Audrey, I imagine you could make it without the sprouts; you’ll need to adjust the hydration of the dough by adding additional liquid, that’s all. Increase the water by 1 tablespoon to start, adding more if the dough seems overly dry and stiff. Or if you wanted to soak some cracked wheat until it softens up, then drain and add that, you might come up with something a bit closer to the original. Not sure of any amounts since we haven’t tested this bread without its sprouts, but it’s worth giving it a try, right? PJH@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel

      Yes, John, that should work just fine. You may need to lengthen the rising time, depending on how long your particular machine’s rising cycle is; let it rise until it’s noticeably puffy, however long that takes. PJH@KAF

  4. Charla Abbott

    This looks amazing and I can’t wait to make it! I have two questions: When grinding the sprouted grains, what disk would be used for the food mill or grinder? course, medium or fine? Lastly, if my sprouts reach the proper level and I ma not ready to start the bread, can I grind and refrigerate for a day or two? Thank you for such great recipes!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Charla, you should grind the grains as fine as possible, to avoid any bard bits in your bread. And I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t grind them ahead; though I suspect, just to be safe since they’re so moist, storing in the freezer rather than the fridge would be preferable. Good luck — PJH@KAF

    2. Richard Miscovich

      Hi Charla,
      Richard Miscovich, author of the blog post.

      As PJ Said, the sprouts should be ground as finely as possible.

      I like to grind the sprouted grain just before I use it. Therefore, I would chill the whole sprouted grain (chilling them will also slow down the sprouting process) and then grind when you are ready to use them. If ground in advance they seem to oxidize and aren’t as fresh.
      I hope you enjoy the bread!
      Richard

  5. Mary

    I recently bought the larger pain De Mie and absolutely love it. My husband loves the crust on this bread so I have been experimenting. The last loaf I made was an English muffin bread. My recipe originally made two 8” loaf pans. Using the larger pain de mie, I made the full recipe, following the original directions. I then greased and coated the inside of the pan with cornmeal and added the dough. Let it rise to a generous half inch below the edge, sprinkled the top with more cornmeal, added the cover and baked it for the original recipe’s time (not being quite sure as to the baking time). I then removed the lid, took the bread’s temperature and baked it a bit longer with the lid off until the internal temp was around 190. Even though the holes weren’t quite a big as they would have been if baked in the traditional pan this recipe is definitely a keeper! It certainly didn’t last long!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Mary, that sounds delicious – I LOVE English muffin bread! Makes sense the holes weren’t large; the point of a pain de mie pan is to compress the rising dough, making the texture fine-grained, with no large holes. I’m not surprised it disappeared quickly! PJH@KAF

  6. margie laughlin

    I have a mill,Sprouted Spelt grain, Kamut & WWW grain. I don’t have a grinder.
    Could I make the Spelt into flour & make a soaker out of cracked Kamut or WWW?
    Or, could you recommend a different approach?
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Margie, sounds like you’re familiar with working with soakers; I’d follow the recipe as written, but substitute the same amount of soaker, by weight, as the ground sprouts. Just be sure the cracked berries are thoroughly soaked/softened. Good luck! PJH@KAF

  7. David

    Hi,
    I tried this recipe and got a strange result and wanted to find out if you can diagnose the problem.

    The problem is that the sides of the loaf collapsed significantly (ie they’re concave). When I look inside, the center 1.5” is a nice open texture but the outer 0.5” or so is dense and gummy.

    I used a 9” Pullman pan and reduced everything in the formula except the yeast by one third. I did check the bread temp when I removed it from the pan it actually a little over 200. Also, looking at the pictures again, my sprouts were probably over sprouted.

    Any ideas ?

    Thanks David

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      David, pain de mie can be very sensitive when it comes to yeast; too much, and it can yield exactly the results you describe: soft (collapsible) structure and dense, gummy edges, due to the rising dough pressing too hard against the top and sides of the pan and compacting itself. These same results can come from a higher hydration than optimal: using just a bit too much liquid. Could be the sprouts contributed to that, too. I’d say next time cut the yeast back, grab the sprouts when they’re no longer than the berry itself, and be sure to “finish” the loaf off in the oven, out of the pan, as Richard describes. Hope these tips help — PJH@KAF

  8. Joyce

    How would I convert this to use a sourdough Starter and can a Vitamix or food processor be used to grind the berries? Thank you

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Joyce, you could try substituting 1 cup of your ripe (fed) sourdough starter for 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup of the water in the recipe. As for the sprouts, they should be ground until totally smooth and pasty; if your Vitamix or food processor can do this, then you’re all set. Good luck — PJH@KAF

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