Overnight Soft Sourdough Milk Bread (Shokupan)

April 19, 2021
13 Ratings
Photo by halfsweetsundays
  • Prep time 21 hours
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves 12
Author Notes

Give Wonder Bread a run for its money with this pillowy milk bread made with your sourdough starter. The yudane (water roux) ensures that this bread stays deliciously soft for days after, while the sweet levain ensures there's no hint of sourness - perfect for the picky eaters in your life.

The suggested times are a general guideline that can be adjusted to fit your schedule. I like to mix the dough in the evening so that it's ready for proofing just before I go to bed. The dough rises overnight (my kitchen is ~22C) and is ready to bake the next morning. As with all sourdough recipes, ensuring you have a healthy and active starter is the key to a successful loaf.

Recipe makes 1 loaf (9x4x4 Pullman Pan).
Adapted from Autumn Kitchen's Yudane loaf & Ruth Tam's Sandwich Loaf. —halfsweetsundays

What You'll Need
  • Levain + Yudane
  • 50 grams sourdough starter (for levain)
  • 60 grams unbleached bread flour (for levain)
  • 60 grams water (for levain)
  • 25 grams granulated sugar (for levain)
  • 60 grams unbleached bread flour (for yudane)
  • 60 grams boiled water (for yudane)
  • Final Dough
  • 200 grams unbleached bread flour
  • 20 grams milk powder (optional)
  • 1 large egg (~50 grams)
  • 30 grams granulated sugar
  • 40 grams milk
  • 5 grams salt
  • 120 grams yudane (from above)
  • 170 grams levain (from above)
  • 25 grams softened butter, cut into cubes
  1. Build Levain (12pm): Combine 50g sourdough starter, 60g bread flour, 60g water, and 25g sugar in a jar. Leave it in a warm place to rise until doubled (~6-8hrs at 22C). You may find it helpful to place a rubber band around the jar to measure when the levain has doubled in volume.
  2. Make Yudane (12pm): Carefully combine 60g boiling water and 60g bread flour in a heat-safe bowl and whisk until all the flour is hydrated and the mixture forms a thick paste. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let cool for a few hours until it's time to build the final dough.
  3. Final Dough - Autolyse (6pm): Mix together all final dough ingredients *except* for salt and butter until all the flour is hydrated. Cover and leave for 30 minutes. Note: You'll only use 170g of your levain - keep the remaining amount for your starter!
  4. Final Dough - Mix Pt. 1 (6:30pm): Add salt to the dough and knead until the dough feels smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes by hand or 3 minutes on low in a stand mixer.
  5. Final Dough - Mix Pt. 2 (6:40pm): Add butter to the dough bit by bit, mixing in between and ensuring the butter is fully incorporated before adding more. Continue to knead until the dough reaches the windowpane stage, meaning the dough can be stretched until it's translucent without ripping. This can take ~10-15min in a stand mixer on low-medium speed. The dough should be smooth, shiny, and stretchy.
  6. Final Dough - Bulk Ferment (7pm): Transfer to a clean and lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise at room temp (for me, ~22C) for 2 hours. The dough should have risen somewhat but not doubled.
  7. Final Dough - Pre-Shape (9pm): Transfer dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 2 or 3 equal parts and shape each into a ball and rest for 30 minutes, covered by lightly greased plastic wrap.
  8. Final Dough - Shape (9:30pm): Lightly flour your surface and a rolling pin. Now it's time to shape: De-gas each ball by pressing down with your hand, then using your rolling pin to roll it into an oval ~1cm thick. Then, starting from the short side of the oval, tightly roll up the dough (like a jelly roll) and place into a lightly oiled loaf pan seam side down (I recommend a 9x4x4inch Pullman Pan). Cover pan with plastic wrap.
  9. Final Dough - Overnight Proof (10pm): Leave your dough to proof overnight at room temperature until it has tripled in volume and fills 90% of the tin, around 10-12 hours (at ~22C). Depending on how cool your kitchen is, this may take a little longer. If it's still not tripled by the morning, you can place the tin in the oven (turned off) with the light on or another warm area for an hour to speed up the proof.
  10. Final Dough - Bake (8am Next Day): Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F (160C/325F with convection). Once the dough is proofed, transfer to oven and bake for 35min, or until internal temp is >96C/195F. Check the loaf 15min into the bake - if it's browning too quickly, place a piece of foil over the top for the rest of the bake.
  11. Final Dough - Enjoy: Remove from oven & brush a little extra melted butter onto the top if desired. Immediately turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely and enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • JJ Paoletti
    JJ Paoletti
  • Katrina Tan
    Katrina Tan
  • Connie
  • halfsweetsundays

33 Reviews

KelseyCarrisoza March 5, 2024
I’ve made this recipe many times and I love it- it slices so well after it’s cooled but is still very soft and fluffy. I’ve used this base for cinnamon rolls as well.
AUresti August 29, 2023
I made this recipe for the first time this past weekend. I ended up doubling it because it was my weekly bread bake. I started the levain and yudane right before bed and it was ready to go the next morning as soon as I got up. I was able to bake it off right around dinner time. The bread turned out great! My family wants this bread to be in regular rotation now. The recipe was very clear and easy to follow. I'll definitely be keeping it in my back pocket.
antiquestores April 22, 2023
I have made this recipe twice now and both times it came out wonderfully! I used AP flour both times with no issues.

First time, I ended up having to stick the dough in the fridge to bulk ferment since I didn't have time to shape, but needed to slow down "pause" the ferment. Then bc my home was really warm, after I finally shaped it only took a few hours to proof and be ready to bake! Always look to the indicator, bc your environment is certainly going to be different than the author's. I also doubled the recipe with no issues.

Second time I made this recipe I tripled it.
The bread turned out great, but my KitchenAid mixer struggled a lot with that much dough, and so I had to split it in half and mix both batches separately, then fold the two together once they were both at windowpane stage. That said, I will only double this recipe in the future, never any more than that for my KitchenAid's capacity.
One more note is that I subbed honey for the sugar second time around (half the amount though) in the final dough (not the sweet starter - kept to sugar in that). Worked well!

Thanks for an excellent recipe. :)
halfsweetsundays April 24, 2023
Thanks for giving the recipe a try - I'm thrilled to hear it worked out well!
Jackie C. March 23, 2023
Hi! Thank you so much for this recipe and the clear directions. I made this bread last night/this morning and it came out amazing. It was my first time making sourdough milk bread and my first time doing sourdough baking in 2+ years but it came out perfectly. I make milk bread very often so I think that helped me.

I only had a 13 inch pullman loaf, so I scaled the recipe up by 1.44 and it fit perfectly (I baked it with the lid on). Great level of sweetness, not tangy but definitely there's a complexity there. The bread flour (along with the starter I assume) gives it a nice chew and structure that would make this a great sandwich bread, but I love a tender milk bread for snacking on so I might use half or all all-purpose flour next time.

I was also nervous about the final proof, thinking it might overproof during my sleep but it took right around 11 hours in my cool early spring kitchen. Thanks again, can't wait to make more sourdough milk bread :)

Jackie C. March 23, 2023
Also want to note I divided the dough into four pieces during the final shape! Worked out well for me.
halfsweetsundays April 24, 2023
Thanks for trying out the recipe! Glad to hear that your first dip back into the sourdough baking world turned out well :)
Rodrigo January 4, 2023
Hello, can this recipe be adjusted for a 13x4x4 Pullman Pan?
halfsweetsundays January 4, 2023
I haven't personally tried this, but I imagine you can scale for the increased volume in your pan, i.e. 13x4x4 = 208, 9x4x4 = 144, and 208/144 = 1.44, so you can probably round up to a 1.5X batch for ease and see how that goes.
Rodrigo January 4, 2023
Thank you so much. I will give it a shot and let you know how it goes!!!
Tomamallie September 29, 2022
Can I use 25 grams of maple syrup or honey instead of sugar?
halfsweetsundays October 4, 2022
I haven't personally tried this myself, but if I had to guess, I think honey would work in this recipe since the total amount of sugar is fairly low. Two things to keep in mind are that: 1) honey adds liquid to the dough, whereas sugar does not, so this might affect the texture of your dough; and 2) honey is sweeter than sugar, so you might notice the sweetness more in the final product. Best of luck!
chulo2021 August 14, 2022
It's the most delicious soft bread I've ever created! Thanks for a wonderful recipe
LauraM July 27, 2022
What an unbelievable loaf of bread this turns out. You take it out and get your camera ready for its photo-op because you will be mind blown when this emerges. The crumb is tender, chewy, a wonderful crust, and the taste! Oh my. This begs for you to put thin blades of butter on it and feel your eyes roll to the back of your head with your first bite. Best sourdough Shokupan I've ever made (I've made a lot).
halfsweetsundays August 3, 2022
Thanks so much for sharing your experience - I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it!
Taly January 13, 2022
This recipe turned out amazing, even though I made a number of mistakes -- I can't wait to make it right! I added the salt too early, used all the levain (so had to add an extra 1/4 cup flour to get to the windowpane stage), and used a 9x5 loaf pan. It rose beautifully and tastes great.
halfsweetsundays January 13, 2022
Thanks for giving this a try and happy to hear it worked out well for you despite the adjustments!
JJ P. September 18, 2021
2nd time making this. Great recipe! I did overcook by 2 min and it ended up at 205 F which made the crust a little harder. This batch though I thought was significantly tangier than my 1st go round. Any ideas? Is it from taking the final temp up higher?

I usually make a double batch (6 pieces) and cook it in a long cast iron casserole at conv bake 350. Still takes me 35 min since it's a double batch.
Katrina T. August 11, 2021
Trust the recipe. It works, and it's good.
And don't be tempted to do an overnight autolyse.
Katrina T. August 10, 2021
Is there something missing from the main dough? It seems to be extremely low hydration - 40g milk + 1 egg to 200g flour.
halfsweetsundays August 10, 2021
The remaining hydration in the dough comes from addding in your levain and the yudane, which both have water in them!
Katrina T. August 10, 2021
Thanks for the quick reply! But the levain and yudane also have an equal proportion of flour in them, hence the overall hydration levels will remain the same, at less than 50%.
I was curious because I am doing an overnight autolyse of the dough (I popped it in the fridge after an hour on the counter because it's 11.50pm and 28C here now), and it's really dry.
Anyhoo, I'm eager to mix this up tomorrow morning. Thanks again!
halfsweetsundays August 10, 2021
The final hydration before adding the butter should be ~55% (assuming your starter is at 100% hydration to start with). The butter will add some richness, but the dough will definitely be on the stiffer side, which also makes it easier to roll and shape before your final proof. However, it shouldn't be dry after incorporating your butter - you're looking for a smooth, stretchy, and slightly tacky (not very sticky). If you find your dough is looking dry, I would say use your judgement and try adding a little more milk :) Best of luck - can't wait to hear how it goes!
Katrina T. August 11, 2021
It was awesome! Perfect! I won't do the overnight autolyse.
It doubled during the 2nd proof and doubled again in the oven. Will definitely make this again! Thank you
Connie July 9, 2021
As this recipe makes one loaf, why do we divide it into 2 or 3 balls when pre-shaping?
What about having a lid on when baking? Wouldn't that help the rise?
halfsweetsundays July 10, 2021
Dividing it into 2-3 pieces and rolling it up makes it so you have that classic Shokupan loaf shape where it looks like multiple small loaves baked side by side — plus, it’s fun to pull the pieces apart once fully baked to see that soft shreddable texture! If you kept the dough as one piece it should still work, but you’d get more of a classic sandwich bread shape. As for the lid, the loaf should rise perfectly fine without a lid as long as you have a strong starter and the dough is sufficiently proofed, but you could try putting the lid on if you want to get a square loaf shape. Hope that helps!
Connie July 11, 2021
Thanks, I did 2 balls, next time 3. It's lovely, but next time I'll double the recipe. It toast so well! My usual sourdough bread warms but doesn't toast because it lacks sugar. Everyone's favorite.
I added the salt with the other ingredients to simplify. So much to learn about the why and when of salt in baking sourdough, what are your thoughts? Thanks.
Connie July 5, 2021
My first shokupan. I was interrupted for a few hours after #4. When I returned, this babe had became a problem child. The dough was too dry, adding the egg and butter was difficult. In frustration I wet my hands and bathed the dough in water. Then shaping, #7 and 8, couldn't happen, the dough was too wet. I put her to rest in the baking pan for the night.
In the morning the rise was about double so I proceeded to bake.
Ok! She came out crumbly when cut, but tasting and looking lovely!
I'm looking forward to round 2 when I can be more present.
Kait April 28, 2021
I just made this and used the lid of my Pullman loaf pan and got a perfect square loaf with a great golden blonde color. Very pleased to find a simple sourdough shokupan recipe. Can't wait to make an egg salad sandwich with this!
halfsweetsundays April 28, 2021
Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try! An egg salad sandwich with this bread sounds so good - I'll have to give that a try myself sometime soon :)
ian April 18, 2021
Overall great recipe - end result had great flavor, very rich without too much sweetness. No noticeable tang either, just a bit more complexity from what I can tell.

The timing cues for mixing the dough were helpful, but I ended up using some supplementary resources for proofing cues - this recipe only includes time and volume, which are certainly helpful but by no means the only strategy. What I would recommend is to follow this recipe but read a few others as well just for those additional cues, like how the dough should look and feel when it is proofed enough.

A few other thoughts, I actually did a 24 hr retard in the fridge for timing reasons, so made dough on Friday, fridged, and pulled out to proof Saturday night. Still worked great, just had to use the oven light trick to warm it back up and get on track with proofing.
halfsweetsundays April 18, 2021
Thanks for taking the time to give my recipe a try - glad it was successful! And thanks as well for the note on including some additional cues on how the final dough should look after it's proofed.
ian April 19, 2021
Oh of course! I’ll definitely make this again. And regarding the more qualitative cues, I think those are best communicated by video or in person, which is why it didn’t feel like the recipe was *missing* anything, only that other resources (like YouTube) can be helpful. On that note, it would be great to see food52 do a video for this recipe!