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Shokupan is Japanese 'plain bread' and roughly translates, in the vernacular, as 'eating bread'. 

It's a simple, everyday bread in Japan. It's sold in convenience stores and supermarkets. Artisanal bakeries sell their sourdough, baguettes and crusty breads but there is a natural affection for and loyalty to the soft, everyday Shokupan.

The Portuguese brought pāo to China which eventually became pan...bread. 

Every bakery in Japan bakes shokupan and to a set standard. A standard loaf is at least 340 gms and each area has its own preferred thickness when sliced. In Kanto-Tokyo, they'll manage to get six to ten slices out of a loaf. In contrast, in Kinki, it's only four or five. 

It's the bread equivalent of the bowl of white rice. After the Rice Riots of 1918, (for here), bread became a staple alongside rice, particularly in the Kinki areas of Kobe, Kyoto and Nara. 

Interestingly, pop-up toasters in Japan are rare. People tend to have toasting options on their microwaves, hence the liking for thick slices. Japanese shokupan sandwiches are often filled with potato salad, ot fruit and cream. Another popular filling is mochimochi - cheese spread. 

To make Shokupan, we're going to use the yudane method. 

What is yudane? It's a water-roux - a paste of flour and water that improves the texture of bread, making it soft and fluffy. When using the tangzhong method, the water and the flour are cooked together to a temperature of 65⁰C and then left to cool. This mixture is then added to the flour and the process started. 

With yudane the method is slightly different. 


For the yudane

100 gms of strong white bread flour (at least 12% protein)

80 mls of boiling water (above 90⁰C)

For the Shokupan

300 mls of milk at room temperature (use either semi-skimmed or even plant based milk)

400 gms of strong bread flour

30 gms white sugar

20 gms of unsalted butter (room temperature)

10 gms salt flakes

6 gms instant yeast. 


Make the Yudane the night before. 

1. Add the boiling water to the bowl of bread flour and mix. 

2. Cover with cling film and refrigerate. 

Flour and boiling water

The Yudane ready for the fridge and an overnight rest

The next day

1. Place the milk at room temperature into a bowl

2. Add the sugar, butter and yeast.

3. Tear the yudane into small pieces. 

4. Add the yudane, the flour and the salt. 

If you are mixing by hand, bring all the ingredients together and then knead on a board until you have a soft and pliable dough. 

If you are using a bread machine, use a short programme (e.g. Pizza).

If you are using a stand mixer, combine on a low speed and then knead on a higher speed for 20 minutes.

Ready for the first proof. 

5. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 45 mins - 1 hr at as close to 30⁰C as you can manage. By then, it will have doubled in size. 

6. Using the finger test, judge if the dough has risen enough....a floured finger pressed down on the dough should show the dough bouncing back. 

7. Tip the dough onto a floured board. Knock it back and divide it into two equal portions. Roll the dough into an oblong shape.

After 1st proof. 

8. Cover the dough with a wet cloth and leave it for 20 minutes. 

9. Roll out each portion of dough to a 15 x 20 cm rectangle. 

10. Fold the dough tightly from left to right - try and avoid getting any air into the middle of the dough. 

11. Turn the dough through 90⁰ and roll it again. 

12. Lightly grease a baking tin. Place the dough in the tin, both pieces facing the centre.

13. Cover with parchment paper and let the dough rise until it fills the tin and doubles in size.. (approximately 30  mins)

14. Preheat the oven to 185⁰C.

After the 2nd proof

Glazed with egg wash and then sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds

15. Bake the dough for 25 - 30 minutes.

16. Cool on a rack. If you wish you can glaze the top of the dough with an egg wash and add seeds. 

This bread is difficult to cut when benefits from being left at least for a few hours. 

Scaling up 

For a larger loaf - or for two as above: 

Yudane : 150g flour / 120mls water

Bread : 450 milk / 45g sugar / 9g yeast / 30 g butter / 600 g flour / 15 g salt. 

Happy baking....


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