Delicious, classic Japanese sandwich bread, that is both soft and light, but with a lovely, spongy crumb. Makes great toast, sandwiches and French Toast!
Are you a bread lover and a bread baker? If so, I think you really owe it to yourself to make yourself some of this classic Japanese bread, known as Shokupan.
Shokupan, or sometimes called Japanese Sandwich Bread is a bread that somehow manages to be both light and fluffy, yet with a bouncy crumb at the same time. Don’t ask me how. All I know is that it is a fabulous sandwich bread and makes the most incredible toast.
Yes, Shokupan Toast is a thing and again, you owe it to yourself to experience it! Cut thick, toasted, generously buttered and topped with your favourite jam, it reminds me of the joy of a warm, buttered crumpet. Shokupan is also a great sandwich bread. Trim the crust and make yourself a lovely sandwich. And finally, Shokupan is a perfect choice for fabulous French Toast.
What is Shokupan?
Shokupan, which translates roughly as “eating bread” is a simple, every-day bread, with a soft crust and texture that is both soft and light, while also having a bouncy structure.
While Shokupan is often made with the Tangzhong method, it is not always made that way. This recipe doesn’t use a tangzhong, but produces beautiful results nonetheless, as you can no doubt see from the photos. In fact, I tested a bunch of Shokupan recipes, many that used the tangzhong method, and preferred this one.
Shokupan can be baked in two shapes. The “mountain” shape uses two (or sometimes more) rolls of dough baked together in one pan. Shokupan is also made in a Pullman pan, that is a bread pan with a cover. This results in a perfectly square loaf that is ideal for sandwiches.
How to enjoy Shokupan
Shokupan bread makes fabulous toast. Slice it thick, then toast it to golden. Top with a generous spread of butter while still warm (so it soaks well into the thick toast), then top with your favourite jam.
Shokupan is also a great sandwich bread. The square shape is perfect for sandwiches either with or without the crust. A classic Japanese sandwich is a multi-layered sandwich, using trimmed bread, consisting of layers of potato and egg salad and ham and cheese, with some lettuce in there, too.
Finally, Shokupan is pretty much the perfect bread to use for outstanding French toast.
Bread Flour: In many cases, I would suggest bread flour not absolutely necessary. In the case of this Shokupan though, if you want the high rise and perfect texture, you really should start with bread flour, ideally unbleached bread flour. Canadians can easily find this at Bulk Barn, where you can buy just as much as you need, so you don’t need to buy a big bag.
Yeast: You can use active dry yeast or instant yeast for this bread. For active dry, you can proof in some of the water before adding to the flour.
Kitchen Scale (Optional): If you enjoy baking, I can’t stress enough the wonderful benefit of having a simple Kitchen Scale. Measuring in grams is just plain more accurate than measuring by cups. No question. And when it comes to baking, that’s even more important. Kitchen scales can be bought for less than $20. Go for a simple on, like the one I’m using here. All it needs to do is measure in grams, oz and fluid oz and have a tare (zero-ing) function. When measuring, grams are the easiest to use, since you don’t have to convert pounds into oz etc. Why do math when you don’t have to :)
Bread Pans: You will need two 8×4-inch loaf pans to make this bread. You can also make Shokupan in a Pullman-type loaf pan with a cover, for a perfectly square loaf, that’s ideal for sandwiches.
If you have a kitchen scale already, use the gram/ml measurements for best accuracy.
Be sure to check your bake after about 20 minutes, as this bread rises high and will likely be sufficiently browned at that point. Lay a piece of aluminum foil loosely overtop of both loaves, then allow to continue baking for the full 35 minutes.
Shaping Shokupan for Maximum Rise
Step 1: Weigh the entire dough ball. Divide the total weight by 4. (In my case, that number was 292g)
Step 2: Weigh out 4 individual pieces, each 292 grams in weight.
Step 3: Form each of the 4 dough pieces into balls, by pinching together at the bottom, then flipping over with the pinched side down.
Step 4: Let balls stand for a few minutes to allow the gluten to relax after cutting and shaping and before rolling.
Step 5: Roll one of the balls into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle, about 9 inches long by 6 inches wide. (Try to get it as square as possible, but the dough is quite springy, so rounded corners are ok :)
Step 6: Fold the top 1/3 of the rolled piece down.
Step 7: Fold the bottom 1/3 of the rolled piece up the top.
Step 8: Turn dough 90 degrees, then roll up tightly, stretching and pulling as necessary, for a tight roll. Gently pinch the end of the roll in to the roll.
Step 9: Place rolled dough into prepared bread pans, ensuring that the right side piece is rolling to the right and the left side piece is rolling to the left. (check the direction of the top of the roll and which direction that last top roll is heading).
Step 10: Place two rolls in each 8×4-inch pan, with the rolls just touching the ends of the pan and a small gap in the middle.
Get the Recipe: Shokupan (Japanese Sandwich and Toasting Bread)
- 4 cups (625 g) bread flour
- 3 Tbsp (30 g) white sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp (12 g) salt, reduce if using salted butter below
- 2 tsp (8 g) instant yeast
- 1 3/4 cups + 2 Tbsp (450 ml) water, lukewarm, about 100F
- 3 Tbsp (35 g) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces, at room temperature
For brushing baked loaves:
- 2 Tbsp (25 g) butter, melted
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading hook, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. With the mixer running (or with a spoon), stir while you slowly add the water to the flour mixture.
- Mix/knead for about 6-7 minutes, or until dough is soft and moist. Add the butter and continue mixing/kneading until dough comes back together, about 3-4 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place into a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise about 40-45 minutes, or until doubled.
- Punch the air out of the dough, then re-shape into a ball and place back in the bowl. Cover and let rise another 30 minutes, or until dough doubles again.
- Stick a floured finger into the dough. If the hole you just created remains, the dough is ready. If the hole shrinks, it needs to rise a little longer.
- Place dough onto a floured work surface. (If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the entire dough ball, then divide by 4 to determine the desired weight for each ball.) Divide dough into 4 equal sized pieces (should be somewhere around 280-300g each). Shape the pieces into balls by pinching together at the bottom. Place on counter, pinched side down and cover with a clean tea towel and let stand 5-8 minutes.
- Grease two 8x4-inch bread pans and set aside.
- Shaping: Flip dough over so the pinched side from making the balls is facing up. With a rolling pin, roll dough to about 1/2-inch thick, or about 9-inches long by 6 inches wide. Fold in 2/3 of the way down, then fold the bottom 1/3 up to cover the top. Rotate the rectangle 90 degrees. Roll up the dough tightly, by pulling and stretching as necessary, to make a smooth surface. Gently pinch together the end of the roll with the roll itself.
- Placing in pan: Before placing rolls into pan, check the direction of the roll for each dough piece. The rolls should be placed in the pan with the ensuring that the right side piece is rolling to the right and the left side piece is rolling to the left. (check the direction of the top of the roll and which direction that last top roll is heading). Place two rolls in each pan, with the balls just barely touching the ends of the pan and with a small gap between the rolls in the centre.
- Cover pans with a clean tea towel. Let rise about 45-50 minutes or until the dough rises to about 1 cm above the sides of the pan (for square/pullman pan baking, it should be 1 cm below the sides of the pan).
- Preheat oven to 390F.
- Once risen, bake in the preheated oven for about 35 min. *Check at about the 20 minute mark and loosely cover with aluminum foil if bread is browned enough already.
- Remove from oven and immediately remove to a cooling rack. Brush tops of loaves with melted butter, then leave to cool completely.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!
Hello! I really want to try this bread and I was wondering if a 9 by 5 pan would work?
Hi Samantha and yes, it will work. Obviously your loaf will be wider and shorter, so the baking time may change. Be sure to watch it closely the first time you make it :)
Hi! Is there any change in temp/bake time if you use a Pullman loaf pan? I really wanna make some square bread haha
Hi Cat and no, it should be roughly the same, but if you have a thermometer, do check the internal temperature for done-ness. It should be at least 190F internal temp.
I love your recipe. I tried it on Tuesday, the bread came out very beautiful, soft and light and it is still soft until today (Thursday). I used bread mixer and i have to say to myself to keep calm and wait until the dough reach the perfect point. 😅.
I ate it right after out of the oven with bitter sweet marmalade and another time toasted and spreaded it with nutella, it was so delicious.
By the way, i used himalayan pink salt in the recipe and found out that it made the bread a little bit salty. Next time I’ll just use normal sea salt or reduce the quantity.
So glad you enjoyed it Anne and yes, I have pink Himalayan in my salt grinder and I have discovered it packs a salt punch :) Thanks!
Hello! I only want to make one loaf.
Can I halve the recipe and make one loaf?
Yes, you can half the recipe to make one loaf :)
Thank you! Can’t wait to try it!
Well this looks gorgeous sitting on my counter cooling!!! Wish I could share a photo!!! Excited to try it!
So glad, Lauren! And yes, it’s such a pretty loaf :) Thanks!
I don’t have toast/bread pan, can I just make it one big ball? Or what do you recommend? And how long to keep it in the over?
Hi Maisa, I think I’d be more inclined to bake it in some sort of pan. I have no idea what the baking time would be, as I’ve never baked this in anything other than a loaf pan.
Made this shokupan today by hand and it tastes amazing! I am not an experienced baker so I couldn’t have done it without your easy to follow instructions, and helpful pictures! My partner loves it too, and she’s very picky with bread :) I’ll be making this bread for my mom on Mother’s Day. Thank you Jennifer for sharing your delicious shokupan recipe!
So glad you enjoyed it, Kiyoko! Thanks so much :)
Hi! Is the dough meant to be a wet dough? I wasn’t able to form my dough into a ball for the first rise as it was so sticky.
Hi Anita, no, it shouldn’t be wet. When making bread, you need to add as much flour as is needed. The amount of flour specified is only a guideline. If you need more, add more.
Thank you! I kneaded in some extra flour when I punched the dough down. I figured out that my cup measure holds 140g of flour so I used 560g flour total. Then I noticed that you have the metric conversion (LOVE!) and your recipe states 625g flour, thus why my dough seemed a little more wet. This bread is AMAZING!!!
Will be making this over and over again. Cannot wait to try some more of your recipes. Love your website. Thank you:)
So glad to hear, Anita :) Thanks so much!
Hi, can substitute the water with milk? Can use tangzhong method for this shokupan bread recipe? Thank you!
Hi Siam, I guess you could, though you’d be making more of a Japanese milk loaf, so you might as well seek out a good recipe that uses the tangzhong method and milk :)
Thank you for the reply! I got it clearer now, I did try out your recipe, love it and yummy! :)
So glad to hear, Siam :) Thanks!
This was so hard to stop eating! It was absolutely delicious and I’ll make this again soon.
So happy to hear, Melissa :) Thanks so much!
This was delicious! I did have to add a bit more flour because my dough was *very* wet, but it all worked out on the rise. Very fluffy and it smelled amazing!
So glad you enjoyed it! It’s a delicious bread :) Thanks!
I could seriously hurt myself on this gorgeous bread! The texture looks incredible. This would be more dangerous in my house than homemade brownies! PINNED!
Thanks so much, Tricia :)
Never had shokupan before, but would love to try! This looks DELISH! Nothing like homemade bread – the smell and taste! Pinned! Happy Monday, Jennifer :)
Thanks Dawn :)
Wow! I’ve never heard of this bread Jennifer, but it looks incredible! I’m always trying to challenge myself with new bread recipes. I’ll need to give this one a try!
This is a fun one to make, Mary Ann. A little different from the usual in terms of shaping, but produces a delicious, everyday bread :)
Thoughts on this working as burger buns/dinner rolls?
I think this dough would make great burger or dinner rolls! As mentioned, it’s light, but sturdy and the finished bread kept well.
I adore your bread recipes! Wish I could come over and bake along side you! I so want this for toast right now!!
Thanks so much, Annie. Bread making is my therapy :)
I am loving the looks of this bread and need to give the recipe a try asap! Pinned!
I absolutely love to bake, and bread is one of my favorites – I mean, the smell alone is just incredible! Not to mention the entire process is totally therapeutic! And, I’ve actually had Shokupan before! Long story, but It was years and years ago when I worked in a Japanese restaurant, and I do remember it was delicious! I’ve never made it before though! Yours looks just perfect!! I must give this a try!!!! Cheers
Thanks Cheyanne and yes, this one is worth re-visiting. Especially for that toast and jam :)
Wondering, why does it have to be flattened out and then rolled? And also, why when placing two together in pan, that they have to “roll” opposite? Just wondering… by the way, I really like your blog and recipes and I have made many of them with much success.
Hi Shelley, the flattening and rolling is the specific technique for this type of bread, that is intended to create maximum rise in the bread. Likewise, placing the rolls so the roll the opposite ways encourages the best rise. It’s all about the rise with this one :)
I’ve never heard of Shokupan but am so happy to be introduced. It looks amazing, kind of like a brioche but without eggs!
It is Chris. It’s such a fabulous bread. I enjoy it often as an “everyday” bread.