Published March 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.
Another unnecessary gadget, or a new kitchen staple?
A Pullman loaf pan is a bread pan with a slide-on lid that produces a squared-off loaf with a firm, compact crumb that’s perfect for sandwiches. Though this style of pan (and bread) existed long before, these vessels are commonly associated with the cramped kitchens of 19th-century Pullman railcars, where the flat-topped breads that the pans produced were easier to stack than the domed loaves baked in traditional pans. We purchased three models—all 4 inches deep and 4 inches wide, with lengths ranging from 13 inches to 15¾ inches—and baked off a round of sandwich breads to see how each performed.
We can’t recommend two of the pans—both made from uncoated steel—at all. Both reacted with the canola-based cooking spray we used: Their surfaces discolored and gave off a fishy odor, and the bread in one pan actually stuck to the metal. (We later learned that the fishy smell came from iron in the steel that was reacting to the unsaturated fatty acids in the canola oil.) Moreover, because of their darker surface color, these two pans produced crust that was darker than we liked.
Neither pan came with care instructions, but we later learned that uncoated blue steel pans like these should be carefully and continuously seasoned and kept dry—like cast iron—lest they stick, discolor, and/or rust. We might have been willing to take the trouble, but the nonstick aluminized steel model in our lineup produced perfectly baked bread that released easily, with no fishy odor, plus it cleaned up in a snap.