Published on 30 June 2020
At the beginning of lockdown, back all those years ago in March, Quentin Berthonneau started making shokupan. And just to ensure his iso-baking was really next-level, he decided he wanted to capture the soft, fluffy lightness of the shokupans he’d had in Japan, but he wanted to do it with sourdough.
In Japan shokupan – the name translates as “eating bread” – is usually a milk-bread loaf prized for its sweetness and the delicacy of its crumb. Not qualities you might typically associate with sourdough.
But then Berthonneau is by no means a typical iso-baking hobbyist. Born in France, he’s a baker whose work you may have enjoyed at Chez Dre, Burnham Bakery and, latterly, at Q le Baker.
“Shokupans in Japan are the softest white bread you find everywhere,” he says. “When I first tried one, I was blown away by the texture. It was the fluffiest bread I ever tasted. I thought to myself I had to replicate it but it had to be yeast free and additive free and realised no one was doing sourdough shokupans.”
Now Shokupan with a capital S is, for Berthonneau, a side project, “and a platform that allows me to do my favourite things: bake and develop relationships,” he says. “Relationships with my community of customers but also relationships with other creatives such as chefs.
He calls his work “naturally fermented sandwich bread”, and now for his first sandwich collaboration (savour the feel of those words, bread nerds), he’s working with Toorak Road brunch spot Hibiki.
From nine till three this Sunday, Hibiki will be selling a tamago sando made with Berthonneau’s shokupan. (There’ll also be loaves available to buy, too.)
Hibiki owner Reiji Honour has taken inspiration for the sandwich from hikiniku tamago – using leftovers from dinner to make breakfast or bento options for the next day. “This is the case where Reiji’s mum often used the leftover mince and made this tamagoyaki, the Japanese omelette, for his breakfast,” says Berthonneau. Put that omelette together with some house-pickled daikon and some cos between fluffy slices of shokupan, “and you got yourself an umami sensation”.
Shokupan x Hibiki sandwiches $15, Shokupan loaves $12, 9am-3pm, Sunday 5 July, Hibiki, 1161 Toorak Rd, Camberwell. Pre-order at shokupan.com.au
By Pat Nourse
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