As the name implies, Curry Bread is literally a bread filled with Japanese curry. The golden crust is crispy and chewy inside from the deep-frying. Meanwhile, the savory filling is rich, flavorful, and fulfilling. If you are a Japanese curry lover, you should make this delicious bread at home.
About Curry Bread
Since Japanese curry is a dish that has a very special place in Japanese hearts and their cuisine, there is absolutely no doubt that Curry Bread is also a huge hit in Japan. You can find Curry Bread, also known as Kare Pan (カレーパン), in most bakeries and convenience stores throughout Japan.
Curry Bread is clearly the variation of the original Japanese curry dish. It uses the same ingredients, such as potatoes, onions, carrots, meat, and Japanese curry roux. However, instead of serving it on top of steaming rice, the curry is put inside the bread dough, lightly covered in panko breadcrumbs, and then deep fried till golden brown.
Do not forget to check out my Japanese Chicken Curry recipe. The recipe features how to make the original Japanese curry dish to serve with rice.
About Japanese Curry Roux
Nowadays, curry sauce is most commonly made from instant curry roux, which is available in block and powder forms. It is a staple of Japanese households and you can find Japanese curry roux at supermarkets across Japan.
I must say the prepackage Japanese curry roux is a life safer. The solid roux is already made with all flavor packed inside which melts easily in hot liquid. You just need to cook vegetables and meat in water, after which the solid chunks of roux are added to the broth. You can usually find the prepackage Japanese curry roux in 3 levels of spiciness – mild, medium, and hot. I personally prefer the mild one because it has a sweeter flavor.
How to Make Curry Bread
These Curry Bread is amazing with light and crispy crust with soft and moist interior. I could not believe that simply putting curry inside crispy deep fried bread can elevate curry into the next level. Let me guide step by step how I made these tasty Curry Bread from scratch.
1. Make the dough
Start by measuring all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Then, combine the warm milk, butter, granulated sugar, and yeast until the butter and sugar are fully melted. Mix the flour, milk mixture, and egg together until they form coarse dough.
We need to knead the dough to create structure and strength in the dough. The floor is combined to form gluten, which is responsible for creating the elastic texture in the dough.
Kneading the dough can be performed using hands or with a dough hook in a stand mixer. Kneading for 10-12 minutes by hand or 8-10 minutes in a stand mixer are the general standards. I used my hands to knead the dough because I wanted to develop a sense for how the dough should look and feel during the kneading. It gives me a real feel for the transformation that takes place when the flour and water are combined.
To knead the dough using hands, fold the dough over and over on itself with your hands, pressing it against a tabletop and continuously working it until the dough is smooth and not sticky to your hand. You can also give a poke test to the dough to test if it is done or not. If the indentation fills back quickly, you are good to go. If it stays, continue kneading. Moreover, the kneaded dough should be stretchable into a thin sheet between your fingers to check if the gluten is well-developed.
2. Rest the dough
Once the dough is stretchy and smooth, place the dough into a bowl, cover with kitchen towel, and put it somewhere warm for about 60-90 minutes for the dough to rise and double in size. Resting allows the gluten proteins to align themselves. It also gives the yeast time to eat up the broken down starches from the flour and expel carbon dioxide and alcohol.
3. Make the filling
While waiting for the dough to double, make the filling immediately. You will need time to cool off the filling so that it will be ready to put inside the dough.
The best part about making homemade curry bread is that you can stuff the bread with your favorite curry. If you do not have Japanese curry at home, any curry will do. I guess it would still taste good without the curry.
To make the filling, stir fry the finely diced onion, potatoes, and carrot with until cooked. Add ground beef and cook until it is fully cooked. Add soy sauce, ketchup, and Japanese curry roux along with a mixture of cornstarch water. Do not forget to break down the curry roux with wooded spatula while mixing to make sure it is well combined. Make sure you curry filling looks thick consistency as you will be bundling up the curry filling into the dough. If your filling is too runny, the filling will run over the dough and make the dough hard to seal.
You can also use the leftover curry, but it has to be in thick paste-like consistency. If the leftover curry is too soupy, just reheat it and add some cornstarch. Start with combining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and an equal amount of water in a small bowl. This is you slurry. Pour it into the hot, simmering curry that you want to thicken.
4. Shape the dough
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand to release any air bubbles in the dough. Then, divide the dough into 16. I used a kitchen weight scale to make sure everything comes out in same size. My overall dough weight is 704 grams. So, I got each for 44 grams dough if divided by 16.
Roll the dough into small balls. Create a smooth surface by pulling all the sides of the ball to the bottom and pinch them together. For the next step, roll a small ball of dough with a rolling pin into rounds about 10 cm / 4-inch across. Flatten out the edges a little, so that the seam will not be too thick and doughy.
Measure the overall weight of the filling and divide into 16. Mine is 42 grams each, or about 1.5 tablespoons of curry. Place the filling into the center of the round dough and gather the edges to cover the filling. Pinch the dough to close any seam. You do not want any leakage because it will turn out a mess during frying.
5. Breading the dough
After putting the filling, we are ready to bread the dough with breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs add a nice crunchiness to the exterior of the Curry Bread. Firstly, prepare two shallow dishes and put beaten egg and breadcrumbs separately. Drop the dough into the beaten egg before laying it in the breadcrumbs. Turn it over and press the breadcrumbs to coat.
6. Rest the dough again
Put the breaded dough onto a large tray and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest again for 20-30 minutes in a warm environment to rise before cooking.
7. Fry the bread
Remember that if the oil is too hot, the bread will brown too quickly and the center may remain raw. Meanwhile, the dough will absorb a large quantity of oil and be greasy upon cooling when the oil is too cold. Gently transfer the dough one by one into the hot oil. Keep flipping the dough over to get a nice uniform roundness and encourages initial upward expansion and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oil and transfer to the wire rack or paper towels while it cools.
These Curry Bread is absolutely delicious right after it is made. If you have leftover, you can refrigerate and reheat with microwave.
Tips For Making Curry Bread
Below are some important tips I learnt from making Curry Bread
1. The curry filling should be in thick paste consistency
Make sure you curry filling looks thick consistency as you will be bundling up the curry filling into the dough. If your filling is too runny, the filling will run over the dough and make the dough hard to seal.
2. Make the filling ahead
If possible, I recommend to make the filling a day before you make the Curry Bread. Once you refrigerate the curry, it will solidify and easier to handle. Just take out the curry when you start making the bread, so it reaches room temperature by the time you fold it up in the dough.
3. Keep the dough covered
The dough should always be covered with a damp kitchen towel or loose plastic wrap with the intention to prevent the dough from drying out. Covering the dough also helps to keep some of the warmth around the dough and helps the yeast to rise.
4. Thin out the edge of the round dough
After placing the filling at the center of the dough, you will need to gather the seam from the edges to cover the filling. Thinning out the edges will make sure the seam will not be too thick and doughy when you fold and pinch the edges.
5. Keep flipping the dough during frying
Keep flipping the dough over to get a nice uniform roundness and encourages initial upward expansion.
Curry Bread or also known as Kare Pan is literally a deep-fried crispy and chewy bread filled with rich savory Japanese curry.
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour (270 gr)
- 3/4 cup cake flour (90 gr)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup warm milk (240 ml)
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter (45 gr)
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar (38 gr)
- 2 tsp instant yeast (7 gr)
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 3 medium potatoes finely diced
- 150 gr ground beef
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 3 cubes Japanese curry roux (70 gr)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch / tapioca starch
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 breadcrumbs (135 gr)
- oil for frying
In a big bowl, stir together bread flour, cake flour, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine warm milk, butter, sugar, and yeast until the butter and sugar are fully melted.
Pour the milk mixture and egg into the flour. Stir together until dough forms.
Using hands or dough hook, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, but still soft. It takes about 10-12 minutes by hands or 8-10 minutes in a stand mixer.
Form dough into a ball. Put the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rest and double for 60-90 minutes at warm temperature.
While waiting for the dough to rise, make the curry filling. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, stirring until softened. Add potatoes and carrot, cook for 5 minutes or until the potatoes and carrot are fully cooked.
Add ground beef and break it down into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5 minutes or until browned. Add soy sauce, ketchup, and curry roux. Break down the curry roux into small pieces with a wooden spoon.
Mix water and cornstarch to make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the frying pan. Stir together until everything is well combined and thickened. Turn off the heat and set aside.
After the dough has doubled, punch down the dough. Transfer it to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough to release the gas.
Measure the weight of the dough and filling with a kitchen scale and divide into 16. Cut the dough into 16 and roll them into balls. Create a smooth surface by pulling all the sides of the ball to the bottom and pinch them together.
Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin into rounds about 10 cm / 4-inch across. Flatten out the edges a little, so that the seam will not be too thick and doughy. Place the filling into the center of the round dough and gather the edges to cover the filling. Pinch the dough to close any seam.
Prepare two shallow dishes and put beaten egg and breadcrumbs separately. Drop the dough into the beaten egg, then lay it in the breadcrumbs. Turn it over and press the breadcrumbs to coat. Set aside.
Put the breaded dough a large baking pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rest and double for 20-30 minutes at warm temperature until they puff up a bit.
When the oil is heated to 360 F/180°C, carefully drop in curry breads in several batches into the oil. Keep turning them while they deep fry. Cook until golden brown for about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the wire rack or paper towel to drain while it cools. Serve warm.