Jack Thompson

People / Process / Trust

Cube Bread

Although originally a Japanese milk bread recipe, this doesn't retain much but the shape and the process - this version is vegan, very adapable, and muscle-memory easy.

4x4x4 Pullman pans produce enough bread for 2 people to reliably use without it going stale first. Also: CUBE LOAF. I cannot overstate the physical satisfaction. It is the wrong shape and it is the perfect shape at the same time and I love it. But you can double or triple it if you want - nothing at all changes but the quantities and Pullman pans come in all sorts of lengths.

Measures below for 4x4x4 and 4x4x8, mostly for my own sanity, and also full amounts for rye as well as plain as those are the two breads I reliably make.

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4" plain:

8" plain:

4" rye

8" rye

...and an appropriately sized Pullman loaf pan (4x4x4 or 4x4x8) with lid.

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Combine flour, sugar, and yeast (and dough flavorings like caraway) in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attached. Add water and mix on low until the dough clears the sides of the bowl (2 minutes) then continue to knead an additional few minutes.

Rest, covered, 15 minutes.

Add the salt and the oil and knead on medium for an additional 10 minutes. It will look like that amount of oil couldn't possibly all incorporate, but it will, then continue to work until satisfied - there will be little to no oil on the sides of the mixing bowl when you're done and the dough will hold together while remaining pliable. It will windowpane if you're lucky but doesn't have to.

Cover. Rise until doubled-ish, 60-90 minutes depending on the flour you used and how much of a boost the initial short pre-salt rest gave it. The dough is risen enough when it rebounds slowly but not completely when poked, however sometimes it comes out super slack; provided it has risen at least a little (ie provided your yeast is alive) it will probably catch up by the end, though may need extra time in the cased rise.

Knock back and invert, re-cover and rest an additional 30ish minutes, until near doubled.

Once doubled again, move the dough from the mixer bowl to the pullman pan, squishing it firmly into the corners. You can sprinkle seeds over the bottom of the pan before adding the dough for a poppy/sesame crust.

Preheat the oven to 425F (400F convection)

Final proof in the pan with the lid closed until the dough rises to touch the inside lid of the pan at the ends and there is more-than-a-little friction sliding the lid on its rails, about 45 minutes.

Bake 35-40 minutes - modified versions with more difficult flours in particular need a little more time to fully brown and to dry out the crumb for easier slicing.

Remove from the tin and cool completely on wire rack before slicing, about 1 hour, to avoid a waist.

If you happen to have an open jar of sweetened condensed milk in the fridge and you want the bread to have a milkier, softer texture, you can add a tsp or 2 to the initial dough mixture. It's novel but it isn't worth opening a can for unless you want an excuse to open a can of sweetened condensed milk. Been there. Follow your heart.


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