Why in the world would you possibly need a new loaf pan? You’ve got your 9” x 5” quick bread pan, and your 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” sandwich loaf pan — maybe even two of those. You have a set of mini-loaf pans for the holidays. What are you missing? 

A versatile 9" x 4" pain de mie pan, which takes the place of both your other loaf pans and offers additional features neither standard pan has.

Three loaf pans arranged side by side for size comparison
It's handy to have three sizes of loaf pan (l to r): the standard 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" and 9" x 5" pans, and the 9" x 4" pain de mie. But if you're going to choose just one, make it the all-purpose 9" x 4" pan, which can accommodate recipes sized for either standard pan.

As is often the case, our customers say it best:

"Just baked KAF sourdough multigrain loaf of bread in this new bread pan. Generally, I never write a review but this pan is fabulous. I thought I had every kind of bread baking pan and method, then noticed this one was taller and a little narrower. It made the most beautiful shaped loaf. Just love it. I have the other KAF bread pans and they are wonderful as well but the shape of the bread in this one is what I am raving about!!! Baked to perfection. Thanks KAF!"  Anne — Midwest

Let’s examine this 9” x 4” lidded pain de mie pan more closely. 

Pain de mie (a.k.a. Pullman loaf), a close-grained white sandwich bread, is traditionally made in a lidded 13” x 4” x 4” pan, yielding a large loaf suitable for feeding a crowd. This down-sized 9" x 4" x 4" pan (with or without a lid), however, is more versatile: not only does it turn out lovely pain de mie, it’s perfect for any bread recipe (quick or yeast) calling for either an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” pan or a 9” x 5” pan: no more waffling over which pan to use. 

Believe it or not, this single pan may just relegate your current assortment of loaf pans to the back of the cupboard.

Loaf of whole grain banana bread on a cooling rack.
Hot out of the oven: Whole-Grain Banana Bread.

"I love this loaf pan!!! It cooks evenly and the breads all come out without any sticking. I already had one and this second one was so that I could get rid of all of my other loaf pans." Pat — Onyx, CA

Six reasons to love this pan

Aside from the fact that this taller pan can accommodate a wide range of yeast and quick bread recipes, why else will you love it?

Comparison of slices of bread from two pans: standard loaf pan and pain de mie pan
Classic Sandwich Bread baked in an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" pan (l) vs. a 9" x 4" pain de mie pan (r).

1. Square slices  

The pan’s tall, straight sides and lid prevent your sandwich bread from “mushrooming” into a loaf whose slices can be hard to cram into the toaster. Instead your bread will be perfectly square: a fine-grained loaf ideal for slicing without crumbling.

Packing sandwiches for lunch or a hike? Square is obviously your most space-efficient shape. It also means the slices from the end of the loaf are the same size as those in the middle, a consideration if you’re making a bunch of sandwiches and want the slices to match up.

Grilled cheese sandwiches cut in triangles, arranged on a serving plate

I like square bread. Looks aren’t everything, but I prefer my grilled cheese cut into perfect triangles, thank you very much. 

Slices of whole-grain banana bread for shape comparison: square from 9" x 4" pan, rectangular from 9" x 5" pan.
Whole-Grain Banana Bread baked in a 9" x 4" pan (l) vs. the standard 9" x 5" pan (r).

I also prefer the size and shape of quick breads baked in a 9" x 4" pan to those baked in a 9" x 5" pan. High-rising loaves from a pain de mie pan make those from a 9" x 5" pan look short and squat.

White sandwich bread from a pain de mie pan, sliced on a cutting board
Classic Sandwich Bread made with sourdough starter. For details on how to substitute starter for some of the flour and water in your favorite non-sourdough recipe, see our blog article: Adding sourdough to a recipe.

"I've been making sourdough bread for many years. I grind my own durum flour, maintain a South African sourdough culture, etc. Sometimes if the dough is too slack, as it rises it spills over the sides of the pan, resulting in a loaf with the cross section of a mushroom. With this pan, that does not occur. So I get a tall well-shaped loaf which fits perfectly in the toaster. In addition, the pan itself is well made, release the bread readily, and is easy to clean. What's not to like? I will be buying a 2nd." Gary F. — SF Bay area

One final note: When baking yeast bread in a lidded 9" x 4" pain de mie pan, remove the lid about 15 minutes before the end of the baking time. Doing this releases any accumulated steam, allowing the outside crust to brown more deeply on top and to set fully on the sides.

Two rye bread loaves side by side: one from a pain de mie pan, one from a standard pan

2. Extra support for slack yeast dough

You know when you’re kneading your bread dough and it’s looking pretty soft, but you don’t want to add more flour because adding flour makes bread drier? The tall-sided 9" x 4" pain de mie pan offers extra rising support for slack yeast dough, or any dough that might benefit from tall sidewalls to lean on during rising and baking.

Let’s take a look at our Sandwich Rye Bread.

Bowl of soft rye dough

This rye dough can be quite soft. But don't knead in extra flour; that'll just tamp down its rise and make the bread dry. Instead, bake it in a supportive 9" x 4" pain de mie pan.

Two loaves of rye bread rising in pans side by side

I've put the same quantity of rye dough in each pan: a 9" x 4" pan on the left, 9" x 5" on the right. 

Slices of rye bread from two different pans, side by side on a cutting board, for shape comparison

Baking shows the ultimate difference: Slices from the 9" x 4" loaf (bottom) are close grained and square, perfect for slicing paper-thin or rustic-thick for sandwiches. Those from the 9" x 5" pan show some mushrooming, and have a coarser grain.

Gluten-free sandwich bread baked in a pain de mie pan
Our Gluten-Free Toasting and Sandwich Bread bakes up beautifully in a 9" x 4" pain de mie pan.

3. Special-diet breads rise higher

Yeast bread is one of the toughest challenges in gluten-free or grain-free baking. Made from a thick batter rather than shapeable dough, bread of this type can spread out once it reaches the rim of a typical loaf pan, overflowing or simply flattening out to make a short, wide loaf rather than one that’s taller and more shapely.

Two loaves of gluten-free sandwich bread baked in different pans, side by side, for height comparison

Enter the 9” x 4” pain de mie pan. Fully supported by the pan's extra-tall walls, your batter bread will rise up … and up … and up, rather than “pooling” at its apex. The result: a higher-rising loaf.

Note: If you bake only gluten-free bread, your best bet is our 9" x 4" gluten-free bread loaf pan — which is simply our 9" x 4" pain de mie pan without the lid.

"I love, love, love this pan. I live the ketogenic lifestyle; and this pan helps me create the most scrumptious, beautiful loaves of cinnamon pecan bread or frosted lemon loaf. Thank you for providing this cookware to enable those of us who avoid high-carbohydrate, grain-based baking products to experience successful outcomes (a.k.a. attractive, tasty foods!) Also, cleanup is a breeze. Truly a great loaf pan!" Jolene – Missouri

Orange pound cakes, one baked in a 9" x 4" loaf pan, one in a bundt pan

4. Standard Bundt or sheet cake becomes an elegant loaf cake

Why transform a Bundt or sheet cake into a loaf? Several reasons. Loaf cake is more elegant looking than a sheet cake; and more versatile than a Bundt cake. While bundt cake makes a dramatic presentation, once sliced it can result in awkward-looking pieces of uneven size.

Orange pound cake, baked in a 9" x 4" pan then sliced on a cutting board
Orange Pound Cake with Bourbon Glaze easily transitions from its original Bundt pan to a 9" x 4" pain de mie pan.

Loaf cake is the way to go if you need cubes for a trifle or a bread pudding using cake. A loaf is simple to slice, and you won’t end up with any odd-shaped pieces to deal with.

Slice of orange pound cake topped with caramel ice cream and drizzled with butterscotch sauce.
Looking for a decadent yet simple dessert? Slice a loaf cake about 3/4” thick, then top with ice cream and your favorite sauce. (I've used salted caramel ice cream and caramel sauce here.) Even better, first butter the slices then grill or griddle them to delicately crusty perfection.

How do you know if your favorite cake recipe is appropriate for a 9" x 4" pain de mie pan?

First, we recommend using recipes for standard oil or butter cakes, rather than foam (angel food) or other less-common cakes. And second, the cake should be standard size: about 6 cups of batter, appropriate for a 9" to 10" Bundt pan, 9" x 13" pan, three 8" rounds, two 9" rounds — or a 9" x 4" pain de mie pan.   

The dough for a cinnamon swirl loaf, sprinkled with filling and being rolled into a log.

5. Swirl breads won't separate

Do your swirl loaves ever exhibit an annoying gap between filling and bread? Place your favorite filled swirl bread dough in a 9” x 4” pain de mie pan, add the lid, and the bread will bake to perfection.

The lid acts as a weight, keeping filling and dough pressed together as they bake. The result?

Two slices of cinnamon swirl bread, one with a gap between filling and bread, one without.
On the left, Cinnamon Swirl Bread baked in a 9" x 4" pain de mie pan with lid; on the right, baked in a standard loaf pan.  

Square slices with no unsightly separation between filling and bread.

Slices of whole grain banana bread with added chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.

6. Quick bread will never overflow  

Have you ever poured banana bread batter into your favorite loaf pan and thought, “Hmmm, this looks like a lot of batter for this pan” — and then 40 minutes later opened the oven to see batter lava-flowing over the rim of the pan onto your oven floor?

This happens to the best of us. Maybe your 9” x 5” pan is a bit shorter than the norm. Or admit it, you tried to sneak some extra chips and nuts into the batter, figuring they’d just kind of be … absorbed. No such luck. Add 2 cups of extras, that’s 2 cups additional space your pan is asked to (and refuses) to provide.

Thankfully, our 9” x 4” pain de mie pan has plenty of extra room for your favorite add-ins. Your recipe says “Stir in up to 1 cup chopped nuts” but you really want all the nuts PLUS a good ration of chips as well? Go for it. The 9" x 4" pain de mie pan has 30 percent more capacity than a standard 9" x 5" pan — and 50 percent more than an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" pan.

Banana bread batter poured into a 9" x 4" pan.

I’ve added an extra cup each of chopped walnuts and chocolate chips to this Whole-Grain Banana Bread batter. Even so, it’s not close to the pan’s rim.

Banana bread with extra chocolate chips and chopped walnuts  baked in a 9" x 4" pan

Once baked, I see I could have added even more extras. There's still plenty of room for expansion!

Sandwich bread dough rising in a lidded 9" x 4" pain de mie pan.

Lid or no lid?

In general, bake yeast bread with the 9" x 4" pain de mie pan's lid on; quick bread without the lid. Yeast bread will rise up and push against the lid as it bakes, creating pain de mie's signature fine-grained texture. The lid prevents yeast bread from rising over the pan's rim and forming the typical mushroom-shaped crown, creating instead a loaf that yields square slices.

Quick bread and cake don't need the pan's lid, as it will never bake up mushroom-shaped. While you can use it if you like — it certainly won't hurt anything – set the lid aside if your quick bread or cake has any kind of topping (e.g., streusel or cinnamon-sugar). Topping can stick to the lid.

Sliced rye bread on a plate, ready to make into a sandwich.

Because I'm a scrounger I've managed to pick up four — yes, four — 9" x 4" pain de mie pans over the years. But trust me, you'll only need one. Or maybe two, since you may want to bake two yeast loaves at the same time, or a quick bread and yeast bread ... 

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About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was an award-winning Maine journalist (favorite topics: sports and food) before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. Hired to write the newly launched Baker’s Catalogue, PJ became the small but growing company’s sixth employee.PJ wa...
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