Sourdough Japanese Soft White Buns

by - September 30, 2020

Sourdough Japanese Soft White Buns

Sourdough Japanese Soft White Buns

After posting my Japanese Soft White Buns recipe, a lot of people liked it and asked if there is a sourdough version.  Here is Sourdough Japanese Soft White Buns recipe for those who may want to try it.  

It is actually the same recipe as my Soft Sourdough White Bread (Sourdough Shokupan).

I always like to use the Yudane method if possible as the texture will be soft, chewy, fluffy and moist on the first day and it lasts very well for 2 - 3 days.  

Yudane method is quite similar to Tangzhong (water-roux) method.  Both methods are scalding method. For the Yudane method, boiling water is used to scald the flour instead of cooking over the fire. Please click here to see the differences between  Yudane vs Tangzhong Method. 

I have other Sourdough Soft Bread recipes that you may like to try too.

It is advisable to read the below general notes before starting baking.


For kneading, please regard the timing provided as an indication only. It is only meant as a guide.  Timing may differ depending on the brand of flour and electric mixer used. The protein content may vary from one brand of flour to another.

Some have experienced the dough breaking during the second proofing.  If that happens it is due to over kneading.  Please stop the machine and check your dough during the final cycle of kneading to ensure that you don't over knead. Every machine is different and there is always a chance of over-kneading when using a machine. You may need to adjust this timing and stop as soon as you reach the window pane stage.  This happen especially to Yudane dough method.   I noticed that it is harder to achieve a very thin window pane  with Yudane method dough. 

The right flour plays a very important role in bread making.  Usually bread flour content around 11.5 - 13.5% protein, while high gluten flour is around 13.5 - 14.5%.  All purpose flour content less protein around 9 - 11%.  To achieve fluffy, soft and light bread, I used Japan High Gluten Flour in most of my bread baking.  Sources from here and here.

The liquid measurement given is also a guide.  It is advisable to always reserve some liquid and not add it all in one go.  This would give you the opportunity to adjust if necessary. If dough is too dry, add the reserve liquid one tablespoon at a time until the right consistency.  This is because each flour absorbs water and hydrates differently. 

Please note that the proofing timing may also vary depending on your climate and environment. The humidity and temperature at your place will influence how dough rises.  
If you are unable to judge by just looking at the dough, you can do the finger poke test:

  1. Lightly press the side of the proved dough with your finger.  If it bounces back immediately without any indentation, it means the dough is under proved and needs more time before baking.
  2. If the indentation stays and it doesn’t bounce back, it means it has been over proved.
  3. If the indentation slowly bounces back and leave a small indentation, it is ready to bake. 
  4. There will be a final burst of rising once the bread is placed to bake in the oven and it is called oven spring. 
If your bread collapses or gets wrinkled on top after removing from oven, it could be because your dough over proved during the second proofing. Please proof your dough until it just reaches or is slightly below the rim of the pan.

Do also note that the baking temperature and timing provided are what works for my oven and should also be regarded as a guide only. Every oven behaves a little differently, so please adjust accordingly for your oven.

A healthy starter is very crucial as advised by Baking with Gina.  It is advisable to feed your starter daily if you want your bread to rise nicely and to use the starter (levain) at its peak.  

If the mother starter is not strong, the bread dough will not rise a lot even though the starter is used at its peak.

I used more levain (sourdough starter) in my soft bread recipe to get less sourness taste. This sounds weird right? More starter will make the dough rise faster and less time needed for the dough to digest and produce acids. The acids give the sourness taste. In resulting less acids produce and bread become less sour.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.

Recipe - Sourdough Japanese Soft White Buns

Yields:  9 buns in 8 inch square pan


50g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
50g boiling water

Levain - 190g total (ratio 1:3:3):
30g sourdough starter (100% Hydration)
90g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
90g water

Main Dough:
205g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
All yudane dough (above)
190g levain (above)
36g (3 Tbsp) brown sugar 
1 tsp salt
26g butter, room temperature
45g egg, whisked 
45g - 55 full cream milk (whole milk), start with 45g first and add in the balance if needed.

Some bread flour, plain flour or corn flour

8 inch square pan, lined with parchment paper

Note:  For eggless recipe,  just replaced egg with whole milk with the same quantity.

  1. Yudane:
    1. Add bread flour in a bowl, pour the boiling water and mix well with spatula or spoon until no dry flour.
    2. Cling film and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.  I prepared the night before.
    3. Take out from the fridge 30 minutes before using to return to room temperature.
  2. Levain:
    1. One night before baking, mix all ingredients in a jar and cover.
    2. Let it ferment in aircond room temperature in tropical climate (approximately 25C) overnight until tripled.  It took about 10 - 12 hours. The total weight should be around 210g.  But, will need only 190g.
    3. Note:  If you like to prepare levain on the same baking day, please use the ratio 1:1:1.  Let it ferment in our tropical room temperature until tripled.  It took about 3-5 hours depend how strong is your starter.
  3. Main Dough:
    1. Put all ingredients (except butter), including the 190g sourdough starter (levain) and all yudane dough into a bowl of stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix for 2 minutes or until all incorporated.  
    2. Change to hook attachment and knead for another 3 minutes or until the dough comes together. 
    3. Add in butter and continue knead for 10 - 12 minutes or until reach window pane stage.  Window pane stage is crucial if you want to achieve fluffy texture. I noticed that it is harder to achieve a very thin window pane  with Yudane method dough. It could be due to the gelatinization of its starch.  It is fine if your window pane is not very thin as long as you have kneaded the dough long enough.  During the whole kneading process, I stopped few times to scrape down the dough from the hook to be sure it is evenly kneaded and also to prevent the motor from overheating.
  4. First Proofing/Resting The Dough:  Use one of the methods that suits your schedule.
    1. Single Proofing - In the same bowl, let the dough rest for 15 - 60 minutes. Keep it covered with clingfilm or use a lid.  I used single proofing for this bread.
    2. Double Proofing - Let the dough proof until it doubles. Usually double proofing dough will yield slightly taller bread because of better oven spring. 
    3. Cold Proofing - Shape the dough after resting for 15 minutes and cold proof in the fridge for around 12 hours, bake the next morning.  However, cold retarding will yield a more sour bread.  If the sourness is not desired, it may be reduced by adding more sugar if a cold retard is used. Some may not mind the sourness though, so it is up to you for your personal taste.
  5. Shaping:
    1. Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface then divide into 9 equal portions. Roll each dough into a ball.  Please watch video from here "How To Shape Buns".
    2. Place the dough in the prepared loaf pan.  
  6. Final Proofing:
    1. Let it proof at warm and dark place until the dough rise double in size.  This one took approximately 4.5 hours at room temperature of 28C - 30C.   The duration of proofing depends on your ambient temperature and starter.
  7. Baking:
    1. Preheat oven at 180C (top & bottom heat)  for 10 - 15 minutes.
    2. Reduce the temperature to 150C and bake at preheated oven for 45 - 50 minutes, or until buns turn to very light brown.
    3. Remove buns from oven and let them cool on rack.

Long Soft White Buns

Sourdough Long Soft Buns

Sourdough Long Soft Buns

I used the same recipe as above, but baked 5 long buns in 8" square pan. 
  1. To shape:
    1. Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface then divide into 5 equal portions. 
    2. Form each portion into a ball.  
    3. Flatten with rolling pin. Sprinkle some raisins (optional).
    4. Roll the dough like a swiss roll into a log.
    5. Fold over both ends and seal.
    6. Arrange all the dough in a lined 8" square pan.
    7. Let it proof at warm and dark place until the dough rise double in size.  This one took approximately 3 hours at room temperature of 28C - 30C. 
  2. To bake:
    1. Preheat the oven at 190C (top and bottom heat) or 170 (fan-forced mode) for 10 minutes.
    2. Brush with egg wash.
    3. Bake at preheated oven for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
    4. Remove buns from oven and the pan, let the buns cool on rack.

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  1. Hi, thank you for the recipe. Would this still have a tangy taste since it's not using sweet levain?

    1. Hi, thanks for asking. It is very mild sour taste. Actually, my hubby said he couldn't really taste it. I refresh my starter everyday and also I used more starter in my recipe. So, it takes shorter time to rise. But, if you are unsure how to control, then just use the sweet levain like shared by Autumn Kitchen.

      Cheers :)

    2. Do you use up all 210g of the levain? Thank you

    3. Hi, Thanks for asking. No. You will need only 190g as mentioned in my recipe above ya.

      Cheers :)

  2. what is sourdough starter, where to buy?

    1. Hi, thanks for reading. Sourdough is natural leavening. You have to cultivate yourself or get from someone you know that they are baking sourdough bread.

      Please search Youtube on how to cultivate sourdough starter from scratch.

      Cheers :)

  3. This looks so good! Your notes are so detailed and you provided so many pictures! You are awesome, one of my favorite bakers!!

    1. Hi, thanks for reading this recipe and your kind comment. Glad that you like my recipe writing. Your compliment is very much appreciated.

      Cheers and happy baking.

  4. I'm new to break baking. Can I check if you wait till yudane has cooled down before placing in the fridge? Thanks.

    1. Hi, Thanks for reading this recipe. It doesn’t really matter. Sometimes I put in the fridge immediately after preparing when I was in the rush.


    2. Thanks for your reply.

  5. Hi... Thanks for sharing your recipe. I'm waiting to try this. Currently waiting for my levain to triple. Did last night, till now only slight increase. Its 15 hrs now.

    1. Good luck, Karen. I hope you will like it too. By the way, thanks for reading this recipe.

      Happy baking :)

  6. Hello! Just want to check what happens if my starter can’t triple? Can I still do this? Also does that mean that my starter is weak?
    Btw, Thanks for always posting these amazing recipes :)

    1. Hi, Did you bake with the starter risen till double, your bread may take very long time to rise or may not rise. Please feed your starter daily if possible until it get stronger.

      Cheers :)

  7. Can the final proof be done in the fridge overnight?

    1. Hi, Thanks for reading and your question.
      I have not tried this method. I afraid it is not going to rise a lot and make your bread sour. However, I have tried let it proof in aircond room (about 24C- 25C) overnight about 7 - 8 hours (depend on your environment).

      Cheers :)

  8. Hi
    Is your levian made of Japanese flour too? I tried feeding my regular starter with Jap flour, but it has not risen yet. Works well with regular high gluten flour usually.

    Anyway love your recipes, thanks for teaching me that sourdough bread doesn't just have to be rustic breads!

    1. Hi, thanks for reading this recipe and your question. Yes, I fed my levain with Japan High Gluten Flour too. It could be changing of flour as your starter already used to the regular high gluten flour you used. You stick to your regular high gluten flour for feeding the levain for time being. But, If you plan to change different flour for feeding, it will take a while. Maybe a week or longer for the bacteria to get use to it.

      Cheers :)