This particular recipe has become one of my staples. I have some other excellent recipes that call for dried milk powder, and a big favorite that uses sour cream. This recipe, though, is a great way to use up milk.
Shokupan is known in Japan as a super-soft white bread. That's exactly what this recipe makes. The bread may be soft, but it's also strong, and holds up well to tough stuff like peanut butter.
I found the original recipe on La Fuji Mama and discovered it made a loaf that was way too small for my liking. Therefore, I doubled the measurements and added vital wheat gluten, and ta-da! A perfect loaf.
I've made this with and without the added gluten, and that extra ingredient does make a difference in the rise. You can find gluten by the flour at most any grocery store, or you can go hardcore like me and buy it by the tub on Amazon. It may take me two years to use it all, but I will use it.
I make an awful lot of bread that tastes really, really good.
Milk Shokupan (Japanese-style white sandwich bread)
modified from La Fuji Mama
3 1/3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup white sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups milk
Butter to brush on top, optional
1) Measure out the milk and warm it in the microwave until it's about 90-100 degrees.
2) If you're using a bread machine, add the ingredients in the recommended order and run on dough cycle or full bread mode. I prefer to do dough cycle and bake in the oven.
If you're using a stand mixer, blend milk and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine gluten, flour, salt, and yeast. Mix wet and dry ingredients together and knead with a dough hook.
Either method: Keep an eye on the texture. If it's wet or too tacky, add more flour. If it's too dry, splash in a tiny bit more milk as needed.
2) Let dough rise until it has doubled, 1-2 hours. Grease or non-stick spray a bread pan.
3) Lightly grease a surface and dump your dough onto it. With your greased hands, form the dough into a loaf shape by gently folding. Set in the pan--or glop it in, and smooth it out (that's still a professional method, I think). Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap or a shower cap.
4) Let dough rise in a warm spot until it's crested to desired height, 30-60 minutes. Watch it. If the dough is heavier on milk, it will give it less structure as it rises, and it could overflow the pan.
5) Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
6) Bake bread for 20 minutes. Cover the top with foil to prevent heavy browning, then bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. When it's done, it'll sound hollow when tapped.
7) Remove bread from oven and hold it over a rack so it will gently drop out; use a spatula to carefully loosen it, if needed. If you want, you can brushed the top with some butter to soften the crust and give it a shine.
Let the bread cool at least 45 minutes before cutting. Also, you can let it cool completely and then wrap it several layers of plastic wrap before placing it in the freezer. Keeps well in freezer up to one month.
OM NOM NOM.