What is a Pullman's Loaf?
Traveling by railway at the end of the 1800’s and into the early 1900’s was considered by many the golden age of rail travel. Many crossed the county-side in a Pullman car wearing their finest attire. The railway travelers were usually businessmen and patrons of the arts who were well-schooled in politics. These men and women would mingle in the club car discussing the finer points of life sipping cocktails while picturesque farmlands and landscapes whisked past them in the distance. This is where the Pullman's Loaf got its start in American culinary tradition. It is a square loaf with a very thin tender crust used to make sandwiches.
Why a Square Loaf?
Many attribute the popularity of the perfectly square Pullman’s Loaf to this era of railway travel, not only because it fit better in the space of the club car kitchen, but also because it was ideal for professional looking canopies, finger sandwiches, and toast tips. The bread had a light texture and exceptional crumb. At the time, it was considered some of the finest bread in the country.
According to the food Historian Elisabeth David, despite this bread’s strong ties to the railway Pullman car, it actually began historically in the early 1800’s in Europe. Bakers there were using square pans with a sliding lid to create loaves of bread with a steamed minimal crust and fine texture. This bread was called “pain de mie”, meaning the crumb on the inside was more important than the crust. In Europe it quickly became the bread of choice for canapes, croutons, bread crumbs and toast to be served with the finest tea.
Why is it called Texas Toast?
Buttery garlic toasted pieces of thick-sliced fluffy bread cut from an extra-long slightly sweet tender loaf of Pullman's Bread are the hallmarks of a really good piece of Texas Toast. These over-sized bombs of carb love are not called Texas Toast because everything is bigger in Texas. Is that surprising?
Legend has it that Texas Toast originated in a popular restaurant chain in Texas known as the Pig Stand. As an incentive to get customers to come in for breakfast, a manager ordered thicker sliced Pullman's bread from a local bakery. The bread was too thick to put in a toaster. A cook at the restaurant started slathering the bread with butter and grilling it. Today it is a popular bread not only as a grilled buttery garlic toast, but as a hearty breakfast fare for making French Toast. We've included our favorite recipe for making the bread as well as directions for making the French Toast. To bake this bread you will need a Pullman's Sandwich Loaf Pan.
Texas Toast Pullman’s Sandwich Loaf
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
4 cups (16 oz) Texas Pure Organic All-purpose Flour
2 Tbsp. honey
2 ¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 ½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
Directions: In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the water, flour, honey, yeast, salt and butter. knead with the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Flour your work surface lightly, and knead by hand briefly, then form the dough into a ball. Lightly mist with a little oil and return it to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 45 minutes.
Turn out the dough and knead it briefly to knock out the large bubbles. Form it into a log about 13 inches long - to fit inside the pan. Place the log in the pan, seam-side down. Put the lid on the pan and set aside until the dough has risen to within about an inch of the top of the pan - about 30-40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake at 350 °F until the loaf is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a rack before slicing.
Texas toast is famous for being used in making awesome French Toast!
To make French Toast:
Combine 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, and a dash of nutmeg.
In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of butter. Dip 4 slices of the Texas Toast Sandwich bread in the egg mixture, coating the slices well. Transfer to the hot skillet and brown on one each side about 3 minutes. Serve hot with melted butter, powdered sugar and maple syrup.