What’d You Do Last Weekend?

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Recently, Emma told me she wanted to make Japanese sandwich bread for one of our baking challenges. No problem. I'd been wanting to get back to a simple sandwich bread, and I thought this would be a great project. For years I'd groped the abnormally straight-sided bread (called shokupan) at Uwajimaya, wondering how it got so darn straight and fluffy and I thought to myself, 'I have you now!'

Yeah, right. Try to find a well-tested shokupan recipe in English.

I'll consider this my first pass, mostly because I hadn't actually bought a loaf of the real stuff to compare. My friend Shirley is always talking about the great Fuji Bakery in Bellevue, WA - so I had to get over there to try their shokupan, which she says is exactly like the bread she grew up eating in Japan.

Fuji sweets selectionI jumped in the car and headed over. When I opened the door I was hit with the smell of butter, and I was overwhelmed by the immense selection. Not only did I come away with shokupan, I gathered a smattering of other yummies (including mini baguettes, a grape and anise danish, and this awesome orange cream milk roll). I brought the shokupan home, opened the bag and took a giant bite of the thick, soft slice. It was pillowy soft, almost artificially so, with a light crust that even the pickiest crust-hater would eat. This was not the bread I had baked. My crust was almost buttery crunchy, and when I toasted a slice of it,
it almost fell apart like a milky poundcake. The Fuji Bakery shokupan
toasted up like a perfect slice of white bread, crusty on the outside
and moist in the middle.Fuji Bakery's shokupan

The recipe I'm including is what I've been able to cobble together from different recipes online, albeit all in English. I'm sure there are excellent recipes out there, but I haven't figured out how to translate the ingredients correctly. 'Powerful powder' was a big enough assumption on my part to mean bread flour.

The shokupan I baked was a lovely little bread, very light, but very much like brioche. In fact, it's about ten times easier than brioche, and I'd consider substituting this recipe for the real thing if I was making brioche French toast or bread pudding. But I don't think this was shokupan, at least not like the one I'd tried. Have you ever baked shokupan? What recipe did you use?

2 tsp yeast
125 ml milk (at room temperature)
75 ml heavy cream (at room temperature)
270 g Bread flour
30 g AP flour
15 g dry milk powder
40 g sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg (at room temperature)

  1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast with the milk and cream. Set aside and allow the yeast to bloom.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and form a well.
  3. When the milk mixture is ready, add the egg to it and whisk it lightly to break up the egg.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and use the paddle attachment to combine. 
  5. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 minutes.
    Note: My dough was never dry enough to come away from the bowl, and it never appeared to pass the windowpane test. I'm not convinced it was fully ready to rest and rise, but aside from making substantial changes to the recipe at that point, I didn't really have anywhere else to go with it. 
  6. Place the dough into a buttered bowl and allow it to rise until doubled.
  7. When it has risen, deflate the dough and shape it gently.
  8. Place it in a pan and allow it to rise until almost doubled.
    Note: I laid the still very loose dough in a sandwich bread loaf pan that I'd lined with parchment paper on all sides. I did not want this to stick.
  9. Preheat the oven to 400F at least 30 minutes before you plan to bake the bread.
  10. When the bread has fully risen, carefully slide the pan into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Cool completely before slicing.

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