A croque monsieur is a hot sandwich made with ham and cheese made with or without béchamel. The dish originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. The name is based on the verb croquer ("to crunch") and the word monsieur ("mister"). Its earliest version appears in the 1920. For the béchamel version, look up at Croque Monsieur vs Croque Madame Recipe.
One 9''x4''x4''/ 23x10x10cm pullman loaf pan holds about 18 slices. Make pain de mie a day ahead.
*Water can be substitute for milk. Milk powder boosts nutrition, and flavor. Grease pullman loaf pan and lid with cooking spray. In the mixing bowl, add fresh yeast, water, flour, milk powder, sugar, salt, and butter. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes, or until ingredients come together. Increase speed to medium-high, and mix for 10 minutes, or until dough comes off the sides, and bottom of the bowl. Transfer dough in an oiled container. Wrap up and let ferment for about 90 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Deflate dough over the countertop (No extra flour is needed). Fold over sides first, and shape into a tight log. Place loaf in the greased pullman loaf pan. Make cuts using a dough scraper, and proof. Cuts allow even proofing and baking results. When dough reaches the top, slide the cover on the loaf, and bake.
Preheat oven to 450ºF/230ºC. Lower temperature to 400ºF/205ºC. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the lid, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. De-mold and let cool the loaf for 3 hours, or overnight at room temperature. Wrap up and chill for up to a week.
Each finished sandwich should weigh ≈ 5.8oz/165g. Spread some softened butter on each pain de mie slice. Add cheese, ham, and another layer of cheese, and top with bread (Buttered side down). At this juncture, croque monsieur can be tightly wrapped up and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Croque monsieur can be seared using basic frying oil, or olive oil, or butter. Pan sear croque monsieur using a hot skillet, or a panini press. If using a skillet, once one side is seared, flip it and press down croque monsieur with the help of a heavy saucepan. Keep seared croque monsieur in a 300ºF/150ºC oven prior serving. Croque monsieur can also be microwaved a few seconds after searing if cheese isn't completely melted. Enjoy!