Shokupan – The easiest Japanese Milk Bread Recipe

AuthorYun Zhang JohnCategoryDifficultyIntermediateRating
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Yields2 Servings
Prep Time3 hrs 30 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time4 hrs

Shokupan is a fun word to say, directly translated, it means “food bread”. If you’ve never heard of it, then which rock have you been living under? Japanese milk bread or Shokupan has been gaining popularity for a number of years, and now they are everywhere!

And for good reason.

So what is Shokupan?

Shokupan is a feathery soft and fluffy white loaf of bread with origins from Japan. Eaten as toasts or made into various delicious sandwiches, it’s enjoyed as an everyday bread in Japan. It has a mild, pleasing taste…slightly sweet…definitely milky with a hint of saltiness to balance things out.

However, it is its texture that most people will remember. While warm, you can pull strands of Shokupan apart and eat it like cotton candy. After it’s cooled down and sliced, the bread has a bouncy integrity that both yields to creamy sandwich fillings like the Japanese Tamago (egg) or fruit Sandos, while holding up meatier fillings like Pork Katsu Sando.

Not unlike its cousin, the North American sliced bread sold in plastic bags in every grocery store, Shokupan has minimal crust and pillowy interior. However, the resemblance stops there. Japanese milk bread is enriched and has way more fat. In fact, 7 times more, either coming from milk, butter or in this case, cream.

Shokupan Vs. Hokkaido Milk bread

To be honest, I’m not really sure of the difference. Except that Hokkaido milk breads have a slightly sweeter flavour than the more ubiquitous Shokupan. So unless you are using milk, butter or cream from Hokkaido prefecture in Japan…can you really call your loaf Hokkaido milk bread?

Some VERY necessary equipments

Before you dive into the recipe, please consider the following.

1. The digital scale.

I’ve been using my scale to make all breads for a while now and I’ve got to say that it just makes sense. Bread making is a precise science and to get it to work every time, you’ve got to start with the right proportion of ingredients.

For example, this recipe is simple to do because it calls for just one bowl and a scale. Everything is measured in one go, making it accurate, mess-free and so easy.

2. A stand mixer

There are many breads that you can make by hand…but this isn’t one of them. This is a high hydration dough, which means two things. First, you will end up with a very soft moist bread and second, it’s super messy to handle. And handle it you must.

This dough calls to be kneaded until it passes the “windowpane test”. Basically, where you can stretch it really really thin, without tearing it, until it’s see through. It took my mixer 20min to get there…I don’t about you, but my arms just don’t have that kind of stamina.

3. Pullman loaf pans

You can of course use a standard loaf pan (9" x 5" x 2.5" OR 23 x13 x 6cm) for like banana bread or something. But simply put, it won’t look as impressive or typical of a Shokupan. Pullman loaf pans are smaller and taller, mine are (8" x 4.5" x 4.5" OR 20 x 11 x 11 cm) so it encourages the doughs to rise higher. It also comes with a lid so you can opt for a closed bake where you end up with a geometrical loaf. And bonus points for being super doper non-stick that I don’t ever have to grease it!

So if you are serious about making Japanese milk breads or any other Loaf breads…and why wouldn’t you be? I would highly suggest purchasing one or two of the pullman pans on Amazon. The joy that I get from easily sliding out a perfect loaf of Shokupan definitely out weights the cost.

Why not use Yudane or Tangzhong?

This Shokupan recipe does not use the popular methods of Yudane or Tangzhong, which is cooking a portion of the dough beforehand to gelatinize the starches. And that in turn will hold and retain more moisture in the final product. Check out my Peanut butter chocolate teddy bear buns post to know more.

This recipe does not use it because it doesn’t need it. In fact, traditional Shokupan made in Japan does not always use the above mention techniques. While those recipes have been popularized in recent years in the making of milk breads, it’s an extra step that can be omitted here.

Don’t believe me? I urge you to give this recipe a try. You will see how soft this bread turns out. And how long it’ll last stored in plastic bags.

The cream

I’ve used both “table cream” (18-30% fat) as well as “whipping cream” (30-36% fat) to make this Shokupan and they both work. However there are some trade offs.

- The whipping cream, with its higher fat content gives the bread a richer mouth feel. But it takes longer to knead to the windowpane stage and for the bread to rise for the second time.

- The lesser fatty cream will enable the dough to come together quicker, but you won’t get that creamier taste in the finish product.

So the choice is up to you.

The flour

Sliding a perfectly baked loaf of Shokupan or Japapanese milk bread out of the pan is a joyful experience. So to maximize the chance of success, use bread flour. With it’s higher protein content of around 11-13%, depending on where you live, you will have a better rise and an easier time working the gluten.

And there you have it! Nothing else to say except to go give this recipe a try. Making Shokupan or Japanese milk breads is a lot of fun and your family, both young and old will love the results. I promise.

You Will Need

 540 g Bread flourProtein content of ~ 11-13%
 220 g Milk
 140 g CreamTable or Whipping cream * see post
 1 Large egg60g +/-
 50 g Sugar
 6 g Instant dry yeast2 tsp, because it can be hard to weight out yeast
 5 g Sea saltless >1 tsp

Instructions

1

Into the bowl of your stand mixer, measure out all the ingredients, with salt being adding last.

Shokupan Japanese milk bread | Yun's Family Table

2

Get the mixing started with a wooden spoon or spatula, then move over to the stand mixer and start mixing on speed 2 with a dough hook attachment. Do this for about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides periodically to incorporate all the dough and encourage even mixing.

3

Then turn up the speed to 3-4 and continue kneading for around 10-15min. Until you have a dough that can be stretched really thin without tearing. It needs to pass the windowpane test.

Shokupan Japanese milk bread | Yun's Family Table

4

Then pull the dough into a smooth, tight ball and put into bowl to rise covered with plastic wrap or a lid. This will take anywhere between 1-2 hours, depending on the conditions in your home.

5

Once the dough has risen and doubled in size. You will be able to poke a hole in the centre and it won't deflate or push back.

Shokupan Japanese milk bread | Yun's Family Table

6

Remove the dough and divide into 6 equal pieces or around 165g each. Pull each piece into a smooth ball again and leave it to rest for 10min under plastic wrap.

7

Once rested, take out one ball at a time and roll it out into an oval. Fold it onto itself like a letter and return it under the plastic wrap as you work on the other ones.

8

When all the dough balls have been pre-shaped, go back to the first one and roll that out vertically into a rectangle. Then roll it into a cylinder by rolling toward you will pressing downward to create surface tension.
Pinch the ends to close and place the shaped rolls into the pan with the seam side down.

9

Repeat the above process 5 more time and you'll have 2 loafs of 3 dough rolls each. Leave those to rise covered or uncovered for the second time.

10

This will take between 1-1.5hrs. When the doughs have risen to fill about 75-80% of the pan, you'll know it's ready for the oven.

11

Brush the tops with egg wash or cream and put them into a preheated 200C/ 392F oven for 30-35min. Cover the tops with tin foil half way through the cooking to prevent over browning.

12

Once baked, remove from pan immediately and leave it on wire racks to cool.

Ingredients

 540 g Bread flourProtein content of ~ 11-13%
 220 g Milk
 140 g CreamTable or Whipping cream * see post
 1 Large egg60g +/-
 50 g Sugar
 6 g Instant dry yeast2 tsp, because it can be hard to weight out yeast
 5 g Sea saltless >1 tsp

Directions

1

Into the bowl of your stand mixer, measure out all the ingredients, with salt being adding last.

Shokupan Japanese milk bread | Yun's Family Table

2

Get the mixing started with a wooden spoon or spatula, then move over to the stand mixer and start mixing on speed 2 with a dough hook attachment. Do this for about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides periodically to incorporate all the dough and encourage even mixing.

3

Then turn up the speed to 3-4 and continue kneading for around 10-15min. Until you have a dough that can be stretched really thin without tearing. It needs to pass the windowpane test.

Shokupan Japanese milk bread | Yun's Family Table

4

Then pull the dough into a smooth, tight ball and put into bowl to rise covered with plastic wrap or a lid. This will take anywhere between 1-2 hours, depending on the conditions in your home.

5

Once the dough has risen and doubled in size. You will be able to poke a hole in the centre and it won't deflate or push back.

Shokupan Japanese milk bread | Yun's Family Table

6

Remove the dough and divide into 6 equal pieces or around 165g each. Pull each piece into a smooth ball again and leave it to rest for 10min under plastic wrap.

7

Once rested, take out one ball at a time and roll it out into an oval. Fold it onto itself like a letter and return it under the plastic wrap as you work on the other ones.

8

When all the dough balls have been pre-shaped, go back to the first one and roll that out vertically into a rectangle. Then roll it into a cylinder by rolling toward you will pressing downward to create surface tension.
Pinch the ends to close and place the shaped rolls into the pan with the seam side down.

9

Repeat the above process 5 more time and you'll have 2 loafs of 3 dough rolls each. Leave those to rise covered or uncovered for the second time.

10

This will take between 1-1.5hrs. When the doughs have risen to fill about 75-80% of the pan, you'll know it's ready for the oven.

11

Brush the tops with egg wash or cream and put them into a preheated 200C/ 392F oven for 30-35min. Cover the tops with tin foil half way through the cooking to prevent over browning.

12

Once baked, remove from pan immediately and leave it on wire racks to cool.

Shokupan – The easiest Japanese Milk Bread Recipe

10 thoughts on “Shokupan – The easiest Japanese Milk Bread Recipe”

  1. Hi, Yun! I am in the middle of making this shokupan. What is the brand of your scale? I am afraid my scale had been wrong, since I can’t make the window pane. Now the dough is the oven for proofing.

    Reply
  2. Hey Yun! I’m going to make this in a few days and I’m excited! I’ve just got one question: what kind of milk do you think works best? Is 2% fine, or does it really matter? Thank you 😀

    Reply
  3. Hi Yun! Thank you for the recipe! I made the bread and it turned out great, but they were kind of short, since I used a regulat 9×5 pan. I was wondering if I could still use it, but making one big loaf instead of 2. Is that a good idea? Or am I just doing something wrong and it’s not rising enough?

    Reply
    • Hi Anna, thank you so much for your comment! I used two 8″x4″x4″pullman loaf pans for these bread. a 9″x5″ traditional loaf pan will give you a more wide spread and lower rising loaf. In that case, I would try to make one loaf with the 9′ x5″ pan with some parchment paper lined to make the pan higher. You will need to adjust the cooking time if make one larger loaf instead of 2. I hope this helps!

      Reply
  4. Hi Yun! I have seen recipes without using an egg. Do you use the egg because you do not use the Yudane? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Anne, yes there are Japanese Milk bread recipes without egg, but not this one. I suppose the egg is used here more for flavour than for the purpose of a soft crumb as it would be in a Yudane recipe. This is a simplified recipe that will yield very good results 🙂

      Reply
  5. Hi Yun! Thank you for posting this recipe! I am very excited to try it and will be giving this as gifts this Christmas. Since I will be making a lot and I only have two Pullman Loaf Pans, I am wondering if it is possible to leave the dough in the fridge overnight so I can just bake two loaves at a time the next day? Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Hi Julia! Yes, I’ve left the dough in the fridge overnight and had no issues baking them the next day. Just be sure to give enough time for the bread to proof the next day before baking if it’s not fully risen. (ie don’t bake straight from the fridge)

      Reply

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