Melon Pan Japanese Sweet Bread

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Originally from Japan, Melon Pan is a soft and light bread that I would define as semi-sweet, covered with a layer of sweet and crunchy biscuit dough. It’s one of the sweets that are consumed during the Japanese snack of children and beyond, try them dipped in hot milk and you will never stop preparing them!

melon bread

Japanese Melon Pan, The Origins

As always, the stories behind the typical pacts of each country are always like legends, that of Melon Pan is no exception. The theories are different but if you think they are called that because they taste like melon it’s not like that!

Some theories trace the creation of the Melon bread recipe back to the Meiji era. It was a bread that resembled a melon in its appearance, and were filled with a sweet white bean paste (shiro-an) and melon-pan was born by merging the two names. Others believe it originated in the Taisho era, where a round bread covered with a crunchy layer was popular in the areas of Osaka and Hiroshima. It was called “Sunrise” and subsequently began to be known by the name of Melonpan. While on the island of Shikoku instead it’s called “Koppepan”.

The one that for me has more reason to exist and the one linked to its etymology. The shape and most of all the design of the biscuit that covers it, recalls the lattice of the melon, which in Japanese is called “Melon”. The word “Pan”, on the other hand, comes from Portuguese, and means bread. When Japan began to have contact with Western peoples, it also came into contact with the Portuguese population who introduced bread, and hence the birth of the name of this delight.

In addition to the etymology, I think it may have origins from the Portuguese culture, because even in Mexico, where the Portuguese and Spanish landed when they discovered the new continent, there is a very similar dessert, namely the Mexican Conchas.

This Melon pan is really widespread throughout Japan but also in Taiwan and China, in Hong Kong there is a variant called Pineapple Bun. Unlike the Japanese one, the crust is more crumbly and thin, the dough is denser and has a richer butter flavor. In Indonesia, on the other hand, the Papparoti, a milk sandwich covered with a glaze of sugar and coffee, is widespread.

japanese melon pan recipe

How To Make Melon Bread

Once you have all the ingredients ready, start preparing the biscuit. Works the soft butter creating a cream, then add sugar, work it with the butter and then add the egg little by little. Add the yeast to the flour and sift everything twice. Gradually add the flour to the mix of butter, eggs and sugar and once it’s well mixed, create a ball and cover it with transparent paper, keep it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Let’s move on to the bread dough. In a bowl, pour the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and milk powder. If you don’t have milk powder, replace the amount of warm water with warm milk, in this case you will use it in the next step.

Take the water (or milk) and mix 1 tablespoon of egg into it. You start pouring the liquid into the dry ingredients mix a little at a time. When everything is poured, start kneading (you can also do this in a mixer). Once well kneaded, hold the dough firmly on one side, and beat it vigorously on the pastry board, until it becomes sticky. This breaks down the gluten and makes the bread much softer, so feel free to release the stress! This operation will have to be done by hand.

Now spread the dough on the pastry board and spread the butter over it, fold the dough and start kneading again until the butter is completely incorporated, start “beating” the dough again, this time for about ten minutes or until the dough is smooth, homogeneous and shiny. Let it rise covered by the transparent film in a boule for 40 minutes in the oven at 40 °C, if you are in the summer, you can also let it rise at room temperature.

While the dough rises, take the cookie dough, weigh it and divide the weight by 5 and form as many balls. On a sheet of paper draw a circle with a diameter of 11 cm, I used a pastry cutter. Cover the paper with kitchen film, take one ball at a time, rolling it out to obtain an 11 cm disc of dough. Now that you have 5 discs put them on a tray covered with foil and put them in the fridge.

Take the leavened dough and pierce it in the center with your floured finger, if the hole closes quickly it needs more leavening, if it doesn’t close, remove it from the bowl, weigh it and divide the weight into 5. Creating 5 balls that you will cover with film and lights rise for 20 minutes. Once they are done, take the cookie discs from the fridge and put some granulated sugar in a small bowl.

Gently take one of the balls and cover it with a cookie disc and make it stick well. Pinch the bread dough underneath and pass the surface of the biscuit in the sugar, engrave the dough diagonally and then in the opposite direction obtaining a diamond grid on the surface of the Melonpan. Put them on a tray to rise covered with a kitchen towel in the oven at 40 degrees (at room temperature in summer).

Once the leavening is complete, preheat the oven to 170 °C and then bake the Melonpan for 20 minutes. Once cooked, cool them on a grill and then they will finally be ready to be spoiled.

Variants Of The Classic Japanese Melon Pan Recipe

In addition to the classic Japanese Melon Pan, there are now a myriad of variations, even with melon! Today I wanted to prepare a chocolate variant. I added 3 g of cocoa to the biscuit dough and 40 g of chocolate chips. But you can create other variations such as those with matcha tea, coffee, coconut, white chocolate and many others to your imagination.

5 from 1 vote

Melon Pan Japanese Sweet Bread

Sweet and fluffy rolls, covered with a sweet and crunchy layer of biscuit. One of the most popular desserts for a classic Japanese snack or filled in many different ways.
Servings 5 buns
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
LEAVENING 2 hrs 40 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins

Ingredients

Cookie Dough

  • 25 g Butter soft
  • 35 g Caster Sugar
  • 25 g Eggs beaten
  • 80 g Pastry Flour
  • 1 g Cake Yeast
  • Pastry Flour for the pastry board if needed

Bread Dough

  • 140 g Bread Flour
  • 25 g Icing Sugar
  • 1,5 g Salt
  • 5 g Milk Powder replace with milk if not available
  • 3 g Instant Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp Egg
  • 70 ml Water or milk if you don't have milk powder
  • 15 g Butter
  • Pastry Flour for the pastry board if needed

Cocoa variant

  • 3 g Unsweetened Cocoa Powder in the cookie dough
  • 40 g Chocolate Chips in the bread dough after mixing with butter

Instructions

Cookie Dough

  • Work the soft butter with the whisk, and then add the sugar while continuing to work it with the whisk. Once creamy, add the beaten egg a little at a time.
    25 g Butter, 35 g Caster Sugar, 25 g Eggs
  • In a bowl, put the flour, baking powder and sift everything twice. Start adding the flour to the butter, sugar and egg cream a little at a time. Mix using a spatula, incorporating all the flour well.
    80 g Pastry Flour, 1 g Cake Yeast
  • As soon as it is all absorbed, stop mixing and put the dough on a sheet of cling film, form a cylinder, close it in the film and let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Bread Dough

  • In a bowl, put the flour, sugar, salt, milk powder and the instant yeast. (If you don't have milk powder, replace it with warm water with warm milk in the next step).
    140 g Bread Flour, 25 g Icing Sugar, 1,5 g Salt, 5 g Milk Powder, 3 g Instant Yeast
  • Dilute the beaten egg Tbsp with warm water. Gradually pour it into the flour. Mix using a spatula, when the water is absorbed put the dough on the floured work surface, knead normally, to collect any balls of dough to incorporate them.
    1 Tbsp Egg, 70 ml Water
  • Now hold the dough firmly on one side and beat it vigorously on the pastry board. Until it gets sticky.
  • Once you have a sticky dough, flatten it on a pastry board and distribute the butter over the entire surface. Fold the edges of the dough towards the center, and start kneading again in order to incorporate the butter.
    15 g Butter
  • When the butter is well mixed, start "beating" the dough again, for about ten minutes or until the dough is smooth, homogeneous and shiny.
  • Create a ball with the dough and place it in a boulle to rise in the oven at 40 ° C covered with plastic wrap for 40 minutes.
  • While the dough rises, take a sheet of paper and draw a circle with a diameter of 10 – 11 cm and line the top of the sheet with cling film. You'll need it later to make the cookie discs.
  • After 40 minutes, take out the dough and find out. Flour a finger and make a hole in the center of the dough. If the hole closes slightly, the dough is ready, but if it closes quickly it will have to rise again.
  • If the dough is ready, weigh it and divide the weight by five. Flatten the loaf with your hands so as to let the air out, roll the dough on itself to obtain a pasta salami. Divide it into five and with the help of the scale you get five balls of the same weight.
  • Put the balls to rise in a foil-covered pan for 20 minutes at room temperature, if it's cold put them in the oven with the light on.

Compose The Sweet Sandwiches

  • After weighing the biscuit dough, divide it into five balls, all of the same weight. Take the lined sheet where you drew the circle, place a ball in the center, cover it with a piece of film and crush it to obtain a round biscuit.
  • Put them in a pan or on a floured tray and put them in the fridge until the leavening of the bread is finished.
  • Make a cup of granulated sugar. Take a ball of bread and cover it with a disc of biscuit dough, make sure that it covers the loaf well up to under the ball but without closing it.
  • Pinch the bread dough below and pass the upper surface (the biscuit dough) in the sugar, cut the dough diagonally and then in the opposite direction obtaining a diamond grid on the surface of the Melonpan.
  • Let it rise for another 50 minutes at 40 °C.
  • At the end of the leavening, heat the static oven to 170 °C and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Once cooked, let them cool on a grill. Once cold they will be ready to be served.

Cocoa Variant

  • For the preparation of the cocoa variant I prepared another biscuit dough by inserting the cocoa, and another bread dough with chocolate chips after mixing the butter. The whole procedure is identical.
    40 g Chocolate Chips, 3 g Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Notes

The Cookie Dough is a very delicate dough and it softens very quickly, especially if it is hot, so try to work it as quickly as possible and store it in the fridge until use.
If you want you can create variations of Melon Pan by adding ingredients, here are some ideas:
  • Powdered green tea with flour for bread and / or biscuit
  • Filled with chocolate or Nutella
  • Anko
  • Other jams
If you want to make the loaf with a real filling, insert it at the step where you form the balls.
Chef: Taira by R.J.
Calories: 264kcal
Course: Bread and Leavened, Breakfast, Sweets and Desserts
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Leavened Sweets
Difficulty: Medium
Temperature: 170 °C/338 °F

Nutrition

Serving: 88g | Calories: 264kcal (13%) | Carbohydrates: 46g (15%) | Protein: 6g (12%) | Fat: 5.7g (9%) | Sugar: 13g (14%)

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist.

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