Shokupan (Japanese Milk Bread) With Straight Dough Method

It is only fitting to include this one in the series, as this is the most common method that is used by many home bakers and bakeries, including me, for an obvious reason. It is fast, no-fuss method. No need planning, no need preparation the night before or waiting for starter, and it uses more yeast which means faster rising.
This was supposed to be the last version of methods I tried, but there is one more coming ;P.

Bread purist swears on preferment as it develops best flavor and better texture. This is especially important if you make ciabatta, sourdough, baguette, french bread, or bread that you eat plain (or toasted), or slathered with butter, and for my husband, white bread falls on this too.

What is straight-dough method? This method is combining all of the ingredients in a mixer, bread machine or kneading by hand. Usually flour, sugar, and yeast with the liquid, then butter and salt come last. No need starter or let any dough sit beforehand. This straight-dough is definitely popular for it's straight forward process (hence the name), but how does the result compared to the ones that take a long time to make? 

To get a fair comparison, I take the same recipe as the previous methods for the same bread. This method is proven to yield equally beautiful rise and soft texture (if you follow the process right), especially when it is fresh. It rose beautifully just like the other method I tried, but things are a bit different of course.

First thing I noticed when I took the first bite was the taste, it lacks flavor. It is totally expected. It didn't have the complex flavor as preferment and was rather flat and plain in terms of taste. Second, it wasn't as sweet. It was expected though I didn't expect that it would be that noticeable. Third, the bread didn't stay soft as long. With the preferment method, the bread was still soft at day 4 though definitely not as fresh as first day (I have a post coming up explaining why), but you can notice the bread is starting to dry out a bit on the next day, especially when it was sliced. 

In all honesty though, if you eat bread maybe daily for breakfast, toasted and slathered with nutella (my kids' preference), jam, peanut butter, or even dipped in coffee, you won't notice any difference as the subtle taste of the bread is completely masked by the other flavor. I am simply using this bread recipe to learn about the differences between different methods, and the result would be the same for different kind of bread too. 

If you are new to bread-baking, try this one first or the improved method with autolyse and go up from there, which I should probably have done. Or, if you feel adventurous, try the preferment or yudane method. They are not difficult, but need some planning. 

As usual, this recipe can be used for any kinds of bread, Japanese milk bun, individual-filled buns, dinner rolls, pull-apart bread, etc. If you'd like it to be less milky, substitute some milk with water and omit the milk powder.

Please let me know if you try any of the method and tag me on instagram @gourmetbakingblog!

I used the same recipe as the other method for the sake of comparison. I changed the recipe slightly by increasing the amount of liquid and yeast. See post on the Shokupan summary in regards to the amount of yeast.

Shokupan (Japanese Milk Bread) - Straight Dough Method
Yield: one Pullman-style loaf pan with no lid 450g

285g bread flour
15g milk powder (optional)
40g sugar
2g instant yeast (see note)
180g milk
20g heavy cream (can be substituted with milk)
30g unsalted butter, room temperature
3g fine salt (1/2 tsp)
  • Mix bread flour, milk powder (if using), sugar, and instant yeast in a heavy-duty mixer bowl or bread machine (dough/knead setting only)
  • Mix the milk and heavy cream together, and gradually pour into the flour mixer with the mixer running
  • Knead until the dough comes together and not sticky anymore, about 10 minutes or so
  • Add the unsalted butter and salt and continue kneading until the dough is elastic
  • Gather the dough and form a ball. Put it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or kitchen towel
  • Set is aside on a warm place until at doubled in size. For 1.5g yeast, it took me ~2 hours, 2g yeast - 1.5 hours, 3g yeast ~1 hour. Timing will vary on temperature and humidity.
  • Punch down the dough and knead to get rid of air bubbles and divide into portions. You can make one big loaf, or however portion you want. I divided mine into three.
  • Shape the dough (see picture), and put it inside buttered pan
  • Cover with plastic/kitchen towel and let it rise the 2nd time until it is 2-2.5x in size, maybe about 1" shorter than the edge of the pan. Overproofing may cause holes in the final bread.
  • Bake in the oven at 350F for about 30 minutes (more or less).
  • If the top gets brown too fast, cover it with aluminum foil after 15-20 minutes.
  • Let it cool on the cooling rack.
  • You can increase the instant yeast up to 3g for faster rising. Do not overproof as it will develop stronger yeast smell.
  • Using standard loaf pan (not Pullman) or Pullman with lid will require you to resize the recipe into smaller one.

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