This recipe comes from King Arthur. I made minor changes to reflect more generic ingredients. According to them, the best bread for thin-slicing is called pain de mie, a butter- and milk-rich loaf baked in a special lidded 13" x 4" x 4" pan. The lid ensures that the baking bread won't expand too much, keeping it very close-grained-and thus totally non-crumbly, and easy to slice. You can use all all-purpose flour without the whole wheat.
- Combine all of the ingredients, and mix and knead them—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—to form a smooth, supple dough.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Lightly grease a standard (13 x 4 x 4-inch) lidded pain de mie pan.
- Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, shape it into a log, and fit it into the pan. Flatten the top as much as possible. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until it's about 1/2-inch below the lip of the pan, about 45 minutes.
- Carefully slip the cover onto the pan, and let it rest an additional 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Bake the bread for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove the lid, and return the bread to the oven to bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until it's golden-brown on top and tests done; an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190°F
- Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely. For a soft, flavorful crust, brush the loaf with melted butter while warm. Yield: 1 loaf.