Cooker makes bread out of rice

by Hiroko Nakata

Backed by the recent revival of rice consumption, Sanyo Electric Co. debuted a machine Tuesday that can bake bread out of rice.

The Gopan looks similar to a rice cooker. Just add 220 grams of rice, 210 grams of water, sugar, salt and shortening in the bread pan, and gluten and dry yeast in the unit’s automatic dispenser, and the machine grinds the grain, and kneads and bakes the dough in about four hours.

“We have developed the world’s first (appliance) that can bake bread out of rice at home,” Sanyo President Seichiro Sano told a news conference in Tokyo.

Sanyo will start selling the Gopan, whose name combines “gohan” (cooked rice) and “pan” (bread), on the domestic market Oct. 8.

Baking bread with rice instead of wheat has special meaning in a country where rice is the main staple, even though its popularity had been on a steady decline.

Sanyo said baking bread at home will help increase the nation’s food self-sufficiency rate and reduce transportation, which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The company plans to start selling the Gopan next year in China and other parts of Asia where rice is still the mainstay. The company hopes to sell 60,000 units in the latter half of this year and 200,000 next year.