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Last Updated on January 24, 2023

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I wanted to celebrate spring vacation with something cute and adorable. For once, I can thank “middle of the Instagram scrolling” for this adorable idea. Have you heard of chigiri pan (aka: Japanese pull-apart bread)? It’s a very simple recipe and you can create so many different character-designed buns. Grab your apron and let’s start baking!

Making Pikachu Bread Buns

Pikachu Bread Buns

What is “chigiri pan”?

During the start of the pandemic when many Americans were making sourdough bread and showing off their starters, the Japanese were making their own chigiri pan designs. Being a devoted Great British Baking Show fan, I was so happy to see that the chigiri pan is just like the “tear and share”. A tear and shares loaf is just small portions of dinner roll dough that are baked in a pan together. Once They are out of the oven, people can grab (“tear”) the bun that they want and leave the rest for others (“share”).

The chigiri pan has been super popular to see on social media platforms here in Japan. I was first introduced to them on my Instagram feed. Home bakers are having fun creating their own buns with some of the most “kawaii” themes. Check out the gallery of some of my favorite bakers and their work. If you need to be inspired with more adorable items, then please follow @momokyaraben. You won’t regret it.

The base or foundation for this bread is very simple to make and requires ingredients that you can find in your home: bread flour, sugar, salt, milk, yeast, and butter.  For this recipe, I have also used condensed milk. These buns are not filled with any sweet fillings like jams or custards, nor are they filled with savory fillings such as bacon and onions. If you want to have a filled bun, then go for it!

Of course, I always ask my little sous chef what character he wanted on his chigiri pan (because why start with something easy, right), and he wanted PIKACHU bread! Why am I not surprised? From finding Pikachu on a manhole cover in Yokohama to going to the Pokemon Cafe in Tokyo, this kid is at the perfect age of loving everything Pokemon.

Depending on the design or what character your want to make, will also depend on what decorating items you will need. I HIGHLY recommend that you plan out or draw out what design you want to make before making your bread. When I first made my bread, I didn’t know when to add the food coloring, and I had to scramble to find melted chocolate and candies for those little details that make Pikachu so unique. For me, my goal was to perfect the color of the Pikachu-style buns and designs. 

Why are all of your ingredients in grams?

For me, baking is an exact science and not an art. To consistently make these buns, and to test the recipe, I needed to weigh out all of my ingredients. I didn’t think that was a difference if I did or did not weigh my ingredients until I did an experiment. For this, I wanted one cup of A-P flour. One cup of flour was packed in (as in I just scooped straight from the bag, and the other cup of flour was spooned into the measuring cup.

Despite both being measured at 1 cup, the packed flour weight much more than the flour that was spooned in. All you need is a kitchen scale, and you will be good to go. Kitchen scales are now easily available from the big box stores to your local kitchen wares company.

Turmeric and Bread Making

The first question I get is “How did you get the iconic ‘Pikachu’ yellow?”. As you may or may not know, I’m not a fan of consuming or baking with artificial flavors or colors, so store-bought gels and food dyes are out of the question. I looked in my spice cabinet and I found my answer. TUMERIC!

Line your pans with parchment paper!

Here are some things to think about before you start bread baking with turmeric. Tumeric can stain! My sous vide machine is still stained yellow after I tried dying yarn wool with Tumeric. If you are using a wooden or porous surface, you need to line it with plastic wrap and wash everything very well. I also wear plastic gloves to keep the spice off of my hands when I’m kneading or portioning out the dough. The tray that I use for baking this recipe is lined with parchment paper.  

The next question that gets asked is “can you taste the turmeric?”. Honestly, you really can’t. You are only using one teaspoon of the spice for color. That spice is competing with the sugar, butter, milk, and condensed milk in regards to the flavor profile.

Later on in the month, we were invited to a “park and play” meetup, and I brought a tray of these Pikachu buns for the little ones to eat. You should have heard the squeals of delight when they discovered what was in the pan. The buns were the perfect size for their little hands and it was nice to make something special just for them. No one, not even the kids mentioned anything about the spice of the turmeric. 

Which character should I try and work on next? Let me know in the comments below!

Pikachu Bread Buns

Delight your friends with buns designed with everyone's favorite little Pokemon.
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 9 Rolls
Calories 168 kcal


  • Stand Mixer with the dough hook attachment
  • 8×8 inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Parchment Paper
  • Kitchen Scale
  • Plastic Gloves optional, but recommended if working with tumeric
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tweezers to place the nonpareils on your creation
  • Saucepot and heat-resistant bowl double boiler technique for melting chocolate
  • Spatula
  • Wilton 1 round tip
  • Two pastry bags


  • 300 grams bread flour
  • 5 grams salt
  • 30 grams granulated sugar
  • 6 grams instant yeast
  • 20 grams butter at room temperature
  • 180 milliliter 180ml of warm milk
  • 20 grams condensed milk
  • 5 grams tumeric This is to make your dough yellow. Please omit this if you do NOT want your bread to be yellow.

Pikachu Specific Decorations

  • 18 White nonpareil sprinkles
  • 50 grams chocolate chips
  • 50 grams Wilton Red Candy Melt


Let's bake some buns!

  • Place all the ingredients in the stand mixer and mix the content with your dough hook. Mix for 2 minutes. Then, set the mixer to high to knead the dough for 10 minutes.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic and allow the dough to rest for 1 hour.
  • Next, weigh the dough and divide the number by 9 (eg: 900g / 9 = 100g per portion).
  • Now we are going to shape the dough. Take a portion of the weighted-out dough and stretch the top of the dough while pinching and sealing the bottom. Make sure the buns are smooth on top and sealed on the bottom.
  • Line your pan with parchment paper. Once all 9 buns are in the pan, cover with plastic and let it rest for 1 hour.
  • While your buns are going through their second rise, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and loosely tent your pan with some aluminum foil. You don’t want your Pikachu buns to look like they have been browning at a sun tanning salon.
  • Bake your buns for 20 minutes
  • After baking, allow the buns to cool completely before decorating them with chocolate

Chocolate Decor

  • You should have two bowls of chocolate. One bowl with 50g of chocolate chips and one bowl with 50g of red-colored chocolate chips. Use the double boiler method to melt the chocolate. When the chocolate is smooth, put it into a piping bag with a Wilton 1 round decorating tip. The 1 round decorating tip will provide a thin line for your buns.

Decorate your buns like Pikachu!

  • First, make the ears. The point of the ears should be between the 9/10 o’clock position and the ½ o’clock position.
  • Next, make two dots in the middle of the face to make the eyes.
  • Last, make a little dot just a bit lower on the center of the face to create the nose. Make an lower case “w” to create Pikachu’s mouth. The middle of the “w” must connect with the nose.
  • Place one nonpareil on each eye. This will make the light catcher that is seen in Pikachu drawings. Sometimes using tweezers help with this step.
  • Now it’s time to make the red cheeks. This requires the melted red-colored chocolate. Pipe small circles just outside of the facial features.


Baking with turmeric: Turmeric stains everything!  If you are using a wooden or porous surface, line it with clingfilm/plastic wrap. I use plastic gloves when I am kneading or shaping my turmeric bread. All of my baking pans are lined with parchment paper before I bake my bread. You don’t taste the spice in this sweet bread, but this was the only way I could color the bread as close to the traditional “Pikachu” color without using artificial dyes or colors.
Melting the chocolate: A double boiler is simply one pot stacked on top of another. Just add a bit of water to a saucepan and place a heat-resistant bowl on top so it is resting on the edges of the pan, but not touching the water. Heat water on low. Put the chopped chocolate in the bowl, stirring often, and watch it melt. Remove the bowl from the heat once the chocolate is melted to prevent burning.
Keyword bread, tear and share

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