[From December Issue 2010]
While rice remains Japan’s staple food, many people are now also eating bread. In response, various electrical appliance companies are selling bread-making machines, also known as home bakeries. Their general function is to easily bake bread by adding the ingredients, setting the timer and flipping the switch. But recently, these home bakeries are performing many more functions.
For instance, Panasonic Corporation’s Home Bakery SD-BMS102 offers many different functions. Not only can it bake a loaf of bread, but it can also steam bread and bake cakes. Additionally, it can make pizza dough, Japanese udon noodles, and “mochi,” or rice cake made by steaming then pounding the grains into paste before molding them into shape.
Also added is a new option that teaches how to make “anpan,” a popular Japanese sweet bun filled with red bean paste. Furthermore, responding to people who think that “one loaf is too much,” a half-loaf baking option is now available.
“The biggest challenge for us was perfecting French bread,” says HORIUCH Miwa, a member of Panasonic’s cooking software team. “With the simple combination of flour, salt, water and yeast, we had to successfully bake French bread with its particular crust and crumbs. We repeatedly experimented daily in developing the program, continually adjusting the subtle combination,” she explains.
SANYO Electric Company, Ltd.’s GOPAN machine bakes bread from grains of rice. While other companies have machines that also bake bread from rice powder, this ingredient is not always readily available, and can also be expensive. So the people at SANYO asked themselves, “Can we make bread from common rice grains?” and soon developed the GOPAN.
“Since rice is quite solid, it is difficult to transform it into powder. We have tried pounding, roller-grinding and other ways but repeatedly failed,” recalls Sanyo spokesperson TAKIGUCHI Takahisa. “One time, when we thought we had finally succeeded in making rice powder bread, we sampled it and discovered that it was a terrible product. The powder had little shreds of the ceramic blades used to pulverize the rice. We almost gave up when a colleague of mine who was developing rice cooker technology asked us to, ‘break down the rice while it soaked in water.’” We did that and eventually succeeded.
“Since Japan’s food self-sufficiency ratio (the ratio of food consumed daily that is supplied by domestic production) is low, GOPAN is valuable because it widens the usage of rice. Moreover, people who don’t like flour can enjoy it too,” explains TAKIGUCHI. And not only can GOPAN make bread from rice, but also from various other grains. It can also make dough for pasta or udon, rice cakes, jam, and many other food items.
So with the evolution of Japan’s home bread-baking machines, it can now be said that bread has now become an integral part of the Japanese diet.
Text: SAZAKI Ryo