Japanese milk bread, also known as “shokupan,” is a type of white bread that is popular in Japan. It is known for its soft, pillowy texture and slightly sweet taste. The bread is made with a technique called “tangzhong,” which involves cooking a small amount of flour, water, and milk together to create a paste. This paste is then added to the dough to help retain moisture and keep the bread soft for longer.
Japanese milk bread is often used to make sandwiches, and it is also used in sweet dishes such as strawberry shortcakes and cream puffs. It is a popular choice for toast and is often served with butter and jam or honey. Some bakeries in Japan specialize in shokupan, and it is also possible to find it in Japanese supermarkets and bakeries outside of Japan.
Here is a recipe for Japanese milk bread that you can try at home:
- 1 cup milk
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
In a small saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until it reaches a temperature of about 110°F (43°C). Remove the pan from the heat and add the yeast, stirring to dissolve. Set aside for about 10 minutes, until the mixture becomes foamy.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, yeast mixture, and butter. Mix the ingredients together until a dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a towel, and set it in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape each piece into a round loaf. Place the loaves on a baking sheet, cover them with a towel, and let rise for an additional 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Brush the tops of the loaves with a beaten egg and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown.
Remove the loaves from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
Japanese milk bread is a versatile bread that can be used in a variety of dishes. In addition to being used for sandwiches and toast, it can also be used as the base for sweet pastries such as cream puffs and strawberry shortcakes. It can also be served as a dinner roll, or as a side to soups and stews.
One of the things that set Japanese milk bread apart from other types of bread is its soft, pillowy texture. This is achieved through the use of the tangzhong method, which involves cooking a small amount of flour, water, and milk together to create a paste. This paste is then added to the dough, which helps to retain moisture and keep the bread soft for longer.
If you enjoy baking and are looking for a new bread to try, Japanese milk bread is definitely worth considering. It is a delicious and versatile bread that is sure to become a favorite in your household. Enjoy!