It is almost impossible in present-day America to find the firm, close-grained, evenly rectangular, unsliced type of white bread that is essential for professional looking canapés, appetizers, and fancy sandwiches. In French this is «pain de mie», meaning that the mie, the crumb or inside, is more important than the crust; in fact, the crust exists merely as a thin and easily sliced covering.
At Poilâne, we have a special 'pain de mie' recipe. It is unlike the loaves you find in other bakeries, and unlike those you find in the anglo-saxon world. My father, Lionel Poilâne invented our recipe. Our 'pain de mie' is thin crusted and has a firm crumb. It is a very fragrant bread I smell baking in our ovens every afternoon; that's how I know what time of the day it is. Mostly, I enjoy it toasted on one side with a spoonful of honey for breakfast, but there are many other uses for this bread. For instance, did you know that the 'Charlotte' is a cake that used bread instead of biscuits in its original version? If you reduce the crumb of the bread to a powder, you can easily use it to replace almond powder or semolina. I have adapted a few recipes in that spirit. I could not get myself to throw away the crusts of the rectangular shaped loaves I used in my test kitchen so I experimented with them too as tart crusts.