By Karen Gaudette Brewer

It's fluffy, thick, square white bread, with a golden crust resilient enough to dip into a molten mug of hot chocolate. In Japan, it's served drenched with butter and topped with a flurry of white sugar. Here in the States, I like to put shokupan to another wonderful use: as the ideal canvas for wintertime cinnamon toast.

Photo by Sparkler

You can find it at most any Asian supermarket or bakery, or bake something very similar at home. The American equivalent is the boxy Pullman Loaf, baked in a lidded pan to fit perfectly into Pullman rail cars; or, in a pinch, thick sliced Texas Toast.

Photo by Sparkler

My basic method for 2 slices of cinnamon toast:

1. Set out butter about an hour before so it reaches room temperature for easy spreading.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl or jar, combine two tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Taste. Make it sweeter or spicier as you like.

3. Place two slices Shokupan on a baking sheet. Really slather them with butter, then top with your cinnamon-sugar mixture so it covers every nook, cranny, and corner.

4. Place in preheated oven for 10 minutes. If you want to knock yourself out, place under the broiler for the last two minutes to really caramelize the sugar.

The result: Warm house, warm tummy, happy you.

Photo by Sparkler

For the ultimate guide to cinnamon toast technique, check out The Pioneer Woman's advice on this vital topic. And stay cozy!