Recipe for Shokupan (Japanese Sandwich Bread) and a Hello Kitty Bento with a peanut butter sandwich, lettuce, grape tomatoes, cheese, apple, and honey shortbread cookies.
Disclosure: I received products from Bento&co in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own.
After making a Star Wars Bento for Evan in December, Claire asked for a Hello Kitty-themed box all for herself. Since I made this lunch with her in mind, I packed the bento with some of her favorite foods- a Hello Kitty peanut butter sandwich with homemade Shokupan (Japanese Sandwich Bread), half of an apple, grape tomatoes, slices of cheddar cheese, lettuce with salad dressing (in the little Hello Kitty container), and Honey Shortbread Cookies.
Bento Box Supplies
I packed the ingredients for the Hello Kitty Bento in this Hello Kitty Lunch Box. This single layer box closes easily for little hands and includes a divider to separate food. The total capacity is 650 ml and it is microwave/dishwasher safe (minus the lid). Bento&co also recently came out with a few more Hello Kitty-themed boxes: Hello Kitty Gingham Plaid Bento Box, Hello Kitty Face Thermal Lunch Set, and Hello Kitty Face Bento Box.
You can also see this bento box (along with the Hello Kitty chopsticks perfect for toddlers) in my updated Soboro Don (Japanese Minced Chicken Bowl) photos. Looking for more chopsticks? Check out the Hello Kitty Chopsticks and Spoon Set, Hello Kitty Face Chopsticks, and these chopsticks that match the featured box.
To form the sandwich, I used this Hello Kitty Sandwich Cutter. Best with slightly warmed bread to hold the shape, the cutter works easily to make a pocket sandwich. Keep the edges clear of filling to help the bread slices seal together.
The Hello Kitty Food Cutter was perfect for cutting out little flowers and bows from slices of cheese. It is also great for making Hello Kitty and bunny shaped omelets complete with the face and bow. I especially love the little tweezers with storage cap included in the set.
I stored the (thick) salad dressing in this Hello Kitty Sauce Cup. Claire also loves it for holding her ketchup. It is best for condiments with a thicker consistency and even comes with a little pink spoon/spatula.
I used the Hello Kitty Veggie Cutter to shape the Honey Shortbread Cookies. As the name suggests, they are also fun to use with vegetables such as carrots and potatoes.
For a little more decoration, I added a couple of Happa Picks to the grape tomatoes.
I used a small knife to make the checkerboard (市松模様,Ichimatsu moyou) pattern on the apple half. Check out how to make this pattern and more with apples on Just Bento. To keep the exposed part of the apple from browning, coat it in a bowl filled with the juice from 1 lemon diluted with a splash of water.
Be sure to follow food safety guidelines when packing your lunch, especially if it will be stored at room temperature until lunch. Nami from Just One Cookbook has some great information on bento food safety, as does Just Bento.
When handling the ingredients, use clean utensils and gloves. Wash everything well and avoid touching items with your bare hands.
Shokupan (Japanese Sandwich Bread)
Shokupan is a soft and fluffy Japanese sandwich bread. One thing that sets it apart from other types of sandwich bread is the use of the Tangzhong method- adding a thick and creamy flour mixture with water or milk to the dough. This helps create the incredibly light and soft texture that lasts longer.
After forming the dough, it is first proofed in a bowl until double in size. The Shokupan can then be formed using either two or three rounds of dough. I opted for three purely because I like the look better, but you will get an even more light and fluffy bread with two. Each ball of dough is rolled out into a thin rectangle or ellipse, then folded into thirds before rolling up. It is placed in the prepared loaf pan with the other formed pieces of dough, allowed to rest some more, then baked until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.
Want to save the bread for later? The Shokupan can easily be frozen after cooling to room temperature.
Shokupan (Japanese Sandwich Bread) Recipe
Adapted from Dreams of Dashi
Shokupan (Japanese Sandwich Bread)
- 20 grams (3 tablespoons) bread flour
- 100 milliliters (1/2 cup) water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 150 milliliters (2/3 cup) milk lukewarm, 105-115˚F
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 400 grams (3 cups) bread flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 25 grams (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter room temperature
- In a small pot, whisk together the 20 g bread flour and 100 ml water over medium heat. Continue to whisk until the mixture reaches a thick, pudding-like consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool to a lukewarm temperature.
To make the Shokupan:
- In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over the lukewarm milk and sugar. Mix together and allow to sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or a large bowl, combine the bread flour and salt.
- Mix in the Tangzhong mixture and yeast with milk and sugar. Slowly mix in pieces of the butter until the dough completely comes together. It should be smooth and slightly tacky. If it is too dry, add a little more water. If it is too sticky to handle, add a little more flour.
- Grease a large bowl with butter or oil and add the dough, turning to coat. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- On a lightly floured surface, punch down the dough and divide into 2-3 equal pieces. Form each into a smooth ball, cover, and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- Grease a loaf pan with butter.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll one ball into a thin rectangle or ellipse. Fold the dough up lengthwise in thirds and pinch together the ends to seal. Roll the dough up lengthwise, sealing the seam, and place in the loaf pan with the spiraled edges facing the long sides of the pan and the seam facing down. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and allow to rest until the dough puffs up and fills in the pan, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Bake the dough in the preheated oven until golden brown with a solid crust, about 35 minutes. Remove from the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature before serving.