Ode to Sliced White Bread:A Recipe

What’s the best thing since sliced white bread? Nothing.


I hate it when people write their entire life story before sharing the actual recipe. So I’m gonna do it the other way. Recipe first, then if you are interested (or seriously bored), you can hear me preach to the choir about how great this bread is after the recipe.

Sourdough Shokupan Recipe

Makes 2 loafs [loaf pan is ~21 x 12 x 12 cm]

Sweet Liquid Starter
Sourdough Starter at Peak90g
Flour*90g
Water90g
Sugar45g
*see blurb about how to find the right flour
Main Dough
Eggs2 large (~110g)
Milk**210g
Honey/Maple Syrup***30g
Flour*520g
Sweet Liquid Starter300g
Salt10g
Butter (Room Temp)50g
**any combination of water/milk/cream is fine ***sugar also works

STEPS:

  1. Make the sweet liquid starter by combining everything in a jar. The stirred starter should only be at 1/3 height for the jar, leaving plenty of space for it to rise. Mark the initial height with a rubberband. Leave the jar somewhere cool, like my balcony step, where temperature hovers around 19°C at night. The liquid starter will take 6~8hr to reach peak.

2. Your sweet liquid starter should have risen 2.5x to 3x. Combine everything, other than the salt, butter, and sesame, in the mixing bowl. Liquid goes in first (milk, egg, honey), then flour, then pour in the starter. The starter might be 5-10g short of 300g, that’s fine.

3. Mix everything on low (stir or 2) with a dough hook until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap, let it sit for 30min or so.

4. Turn on your mixer again, pour in the salt. Mix on 2 until the dough forms a ball around the hook. This should only take less than a minute.

5. Throw in the butter (I like to just throw them all in) and keep the mixer running on 2. Initially, the dough might start to break apart. Don’t panic! Mix until the dough has absorb most of the butter, and the side of the mixing bowl looks relatively clean (see pic), then turn the speed up to 4.

6. If you have any mix-ins, like sesame or raisins, it’s time to pour them in now. Keep the mixer running at 4, mix until just before the windowpane stage. If you stretch the dough with wet fingers, you can see the colour of your finger, but the dough might still tear and the edges look ragged. That’s fine! This step should only take around 4-5min.

7. Pour the dough out onto a floured board. Divide, shape into 4 balls. Try to keep the balls surface taunt by tugging in the sides, and roll it on the board to create some surface tension. Cover and let it rest for 30min.

8. Roll the balls out into flat rounds, fold in the sides toward the center, then roll into a log. Try stretching the dough while rolling to create some surface tension.

9. Let the logs rise in the loaf pans. Cover the pans with plastic wrap then put on the lid. I like to proof them in the oven. The proofing process should take anywhere between 5.5-7.5 hours.

10. If you want to bake squares, let the dough rise til 60% of the height of the pan. If you want to bake dome-shaped loafs, let it rise til 80% of the height.

11. Once your loaf has done proofing. Bake at 375°F or 190°C for 35-45min. (see blurb about baking time)

TWO SAMPLE SCHEDULES:

  1. Night before at 12am: make sweet liquid starter, let it sit at 19°C~20°C
  2. 8am: Mix everything, autolyse 30min.
  3. 8:40am: Throw in salt, butter, and mix-ins, knead.
  4. 9:00am: Preshape, wait 30min.
  5. 9:35am: Shape, proof.
  6. 3:00pm: Bake.
  1. 8am: make sweet liquid starter with 25°C warm water, put jar in warm oven (4hr to peak)
  2. 12pm: Mix everything, autolyse 30min.
  3. 12:40pm: Throw in salt, butter, and mix-ins, knead.
  4. 1:00pm: Preshape, wait 30min.
  5. 1:35pm: Shape, proof.
  6. 7:00pm: Bake.

OTHER BLURBS FROM THE MOST IMPORTANT TO THE LEAST


RECIPE NOTES:

  1. I adapted the recipe from @thru1lense and @autumn.kitchen on instagram. I made some modifications to the process to make it more friendly towards my stand mixer. Namely, introducing 20-30min autolyse after all the ingredients are mixed together. I also found it to be unnecessary to knead the dough til windowpane stage. The gluten strands will form automatically during the long fermentation process, so you can under-knead it and still get fluffy, soft bread.
  2. I am aware of the whooping 37.5g of added sugar per loaf (admit it, maple syrup is still sugar). However, I have not found a good way around it yet. These days, this bread is a rare treat.
  3. You can subsitude 20% of the white flour with whole wheat flour. However, with the amount of sugar in this bread, it’s like smoking, but with organic rolling paper.
  4. This bread keeps incredibly well and stay moist for days. I often take a loaf on camping trips and eat it a couple days in. However, the best way to store it is sliced then freezed. It toasts incredibly well.

FLOUR:

In Canada, you can use all purpose flour because Canadian flour are milled from hard wheat and have a protein content of ~13%. Canadian bread flour is also a lie, because it has the exact same protein content as all purpose. You can infer the protein content of the flour by looking at the nutrition facts. Just look at the amount of protein per serving. 4g of protein per 30g of flour? 4/30 = 13.3% protein content. In general, anything with >11% protein content will be fine.

KNEADING BY HAND:

Since you don’t need to reach the windowpane stage, I think it’s totally possible to knead by hand. Try the slap and fold method for maximum efficiency.

LOAF PAN:

Not all loaf pan on amazon or other websites are created equal. My mom gave me my first loaf pan, which has silver coating outside and gold coating inside. It is seriously the best because nothing ever sticks to it, ever. I bought a gold one off amazon ($23? ish) and fuck, EVERYTHING sticks. I tried oiling it with no avail. So like any reasonable human being, I bought an more expensive one off amazon, and it’s slighly better.

BAKING TIME:

It should be noted that I found the gold pans retain much more heat. So bread will rise faster in the oven, leading to some tearing of the top if you don’t proof your dough exactly right. The loaf in the silver coated pan usually needs anouther 5-8min to reach the same colour, so time accordingly.

SUGGESTED SERVING:

Eat it right out of the pan (you don’t need to wait to slice it). Make a Japanese egg salad sandwich out of it (or any sandwich). Make grilled cheese. EAT IT TOASTED AND BUTTERED!

SOURDOUGH STARTER:

I traded a plant for mine 3(?) years ago on a local trading app. These days you can buy sourdough starters off the internet, at your local bakery etc. so you really don’t need to start from scratch. I don’t baby my starter. After I’m done baking with it, it sits on my counter and I feed it once a week. If I found myself to be beyond lazy and can’t even do that (which is often), I throw it in the fridge for a while. It never dies. So you don’t need to tip toe around your starter, make it work for you. After you take it out of the fridge, refresh it 1:1:1, wait 12 hours or so, and refresh it again. Then it’s ready for the sweet liquid starter.

IT TAKES SO LONG!!

The overall process takes a while, but it’s mostly waiting. I sometimes start the sweet levain before work (around 8am), and bake around 11pm. With working from home these days, I can even make it around my work schedule. Living in a warm climate helps, but if your apartment feels like the North Pole sometimes, turning on the oven for a couple minutes, or using warm water to mix your dough both helps. You can always tweak the schedule by warming or cooling down your ingredients.

EAT BREAD!

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