Shoku Pan is a Japanese square loaf bread that is often eaten as toast or used for sandwiches. Although rice is the biggest staple food in Japan, Shoku Pan bread today may be the most popular breakfast item. Shoku Pan is very soft and tender and delicious, and you will love it if you like Japanese bread. This basic white bread is so versatile it can be used it in many recipes, both savory and sweet.
Many Japanese pastries and breads are heavily influenced from European countries, and Shoku Pan bread is no exception. The origin of Shoku Pan, a round top English loaf bread, was first introduced by England in the late 19th century. Over the course of 100 years, the shape, texture and flavor of the bread was improved and fit to Japanese people’s food style. And today, it has become the bread people eat every morning as toast.
Since there are lots and lots of bakeries in cities in Japan (it seems like on every corner, not to mention all the supermarkets and convenience stores), freshly baked Shoku Pan is easily available. However, like other Japanese food, it is limited for people outside Japan. Luckily, the ingredients are easy to get anywhere: yeast, flour, and water, along with some sugar and fat. And, the process of making Shoku Pan is quite simple. You do need a special Shoku Pan mold to bake in though. Shoku Pan is usually baked in a loaf pan with a lid so that the top of the bread is baked flat and forms a square when sliced. You can of course buy a Shoku Pan mold in Japan pretty easily, however, you may have to improvise if you don’t live there. In the US, there is the “Pullman loaf” that is similar to Shoku Pan, and its pan has a lid. The Pullman loaf pan size is a little smaller than typical Shoku Pan, but that pan definitely works. Some specialty stores and online shops carry them.
When Shoku Pan is fresh, you can eat it as is, but normally you slice and toast the bread, and spread with butter to eat. The thickness of the toast is usually something like 1″ (about 2cm), but thick toast is nice too. If you slice thinly (less than 1″), you can make sandwiches out of it. Just like other bread recipes, you may need to practice a couple of times to perfect it, and you will get to eat this tasty bread hot out of your own oven!
- 10 g dry yeast
- 40 g sugar
- 420 ml water, lukewarm
- 600 g bread flour
- 20 g dried milk
- 10 g salt
- 40 g butter, room temperature
- Oil the bread pan with oil or butter. Preheat oven at 400F.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer, add yeast, sugar, and warm water, and whisk well. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Add bread flour, dried milk, and salt to the mixer bowl, and knead for 7-8 minutes with a dough hook. Then add soft butter and knead for another 7-8 minutes.
- When the dough becomes smooth, make it into a ball, then let it rise covered with plastic for about 1 hour or until doubled.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces, make into balls, and put them in the pan side by side. Let it rise again about 45 minutes, covered, or until the dough rises to 3/4 of the height of the pan.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove immediately from the pan.