For most of my childhood and well into adolescence, I loved anime and manga. Think: Sailor Moon, Hana Yori Dango, Honey and Clover, Bleach, Death Note, etc. (I could go on and on…) During weekends and summer vacations, I’d binge watch episodes and read for hours. And then during college, my roommates and I were totally into Japanese and Korean comedies and dramas. We would stay up well into the early morning, crying and watching these intense and addicting shows and series. And now in present time, thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, binge watching shows and movies has become way too easy.
So back to the anime and manga, one food item commonly mentioned in these stories is melon pan. Melon pan, also known as melon bread or melon bun, is simply a sweet bread. It is not melon flavored (although you can find ones that are). It’s named such because of the cookie crust topping that resembles the melon rind. Melon pan is quite similar to pineapple bun, pan dulce and conchas. They all share some sort of cookie crust topping. But more importantly, they’re all delicious snacks.
The cookie crust is everything! It provides the perfect texture to complement the soft bread. The topping is crunchy, sweet, and makes me want to eat more and more!
The bread dough is fairly straight forward to make. After mixing the dough together, let it rise until it’s doubled in volume. While the dough is resting, make the cookie crust and keep in the fridge until ready to use. Once the dough has risen, divide it into 8 equal parts. I like to use a kitchen scale so the breads rolls are all uniform. Place the bread rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover the bread with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap prevents the dough from drying out and forming unwanted “elephant” skin.
Remove the cookie dough from the fridge and divide it into 8 parts. Gently roll out the cookie dough until it is large enough to cover the bread rolls.
Place the rolled out cookie dough over the bread rolls. You can completely cover the bread roll in cookie dough, or choose to only cover the top, leaving exposed bread at the bottom. Use a knife to gently score the cookie dough into some sort of criss-cross pattern. It’s this cookie crust topping that gives melon pan it’s name.
Cover the bread rolls with plastic wrap once again and let it rest until the rolls have puffed up.
Brush the bread rolls with egg wash and pop them in the oven. In less than half an hour, you’ll have warm melon pan to enjoy for an sweet afternoon snack.
Make a batch of these and get ready to binge watch your favorite shows!
Japanese Melon Pan
Yield: 8 bread rolls
- 2 1/4 teaspoon (7 g) active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup (140 g) whole milk, warmed to 110 degree F
- 2 1/4 cup (300 g) bread flour
- 1/4 cup (60 g) granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoon non-fat dry milk powder
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea sat
- 2 Tablespoon egg mixture*
- 2 Tablespoon (30 g) unsalted butter, softened
Cookie Crust Topping:
- 4 Tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 60 grams powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup (100 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons egg mixture*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together yeast, warmed milk, and one teaspoon of sugar. Let sit for 5-7 minutes until mixture is bubbly. Pour into the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment.
Add bread flour, sugar, milk powder, salt and egg mixture. Knead together on low speed. Once dough starts to come together, add softened butter. Continue to mix on low speed until butter has been incorporated. Then increase speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth.
Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for one hour until dough has doubled in volume.
While dough is resting, making cookie crust topping. Cream together butter and powdered sugar. Once smooth, add salt and flour. Mix together. Then add egg mixture and vanilla. Combine until cookie dough forms. Transfer cookie dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap roll the cookie dough into a log. Wrap tightly and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
Divide dough into 8 equal parts. Roll dough into rounds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover dough balls with plastic wrap to prevent dough from drying out.
Take cookie dough out of the fridge. Divide into 8 pieces. Gently roll out the cookie dough until it is large enough to cover the bread rolls. Place cookie dough over bread rolls. Use a knife to gently score the cookie dough into some sort of criss-cross pattern. Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30-45 minutes until bread rolls have puffed up.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of bread rolls with remaining egg mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes until fragrant and golden brown. Eat warm or at room temperature.
*To make egg mixture: take 2 large eggs and whisk until smooth.