The last two months have been sort of maddening for me. My recent move to Bangalore with my two year old tyke running all over the place has sapped me of all my energy. With things slowly coming to order, I have decided to catch up on the breads baked by the “we knead to bake” group.
The bread baked by the group for March was a Japanese bread called Melon Pan. It is also popular in China, Taiwan and Latin America. Pan is Japanese for bread and I guess the melon shaped crosshatched pattern on top of the bread has it given it the name Melon Pan. This is a soft, rich and somewhat sweet bread covered by a layer of crispy cookie.
The bread dough for the melon pan is generally plain, but it is not uncommon to find these buns with chocolate chips or filled with cream cheese, custard/pastry cream or even chopped chocolate. The cookie dough can also be flavoured using chocolate, pineapple, green tea etc. Please watch this video before you start making the bread so that you have a good idea about the texture of the dough and also on how to shape the melon pan.
- For the bread dough:
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (plus extra as required)
- 2 tbsp milk powder
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup cold water
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 25gm butter, at room temperature
- For cookie dough:
- 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- A large pinch of salt
- 60 gms butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup castor sugar (increase to ⅓ cup for sweeter dough)
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
- Castor sugar or granulated sugar for dusting
- To make the bread dough, whisk together the flour, milk powder, sugar, instant yeast and salt in a bowl.
- In an another bowl whisk together egg and cold water.
- Add it to the flour mixture and knead it well until you have a slightly stiff dough.
- Then add the butter and knead until the butter is fully incorporated into the dough and the dough becomes smooth, elastic and well shaped.
- Shape the dough into a round and place it in a lightly oiled bowl.
- Cover and let it rise till it double in volume (which should be about an hour or so in the typical Indian weather).
- While the bread dough is getting done, you can start making the cookie dough.
- Cream soft butter and sugar till fluffy.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract to this and beat it well.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt two times and add it to the butter-sugar-egg mixture.
- Add the lemon zest or any other flavoring as per your preference at this point.
- Mix it well until just combined.
- Shape the dough into a cylinder and wrap in a cling film.
- Refrigerate the cookie dough until required.
- Once the bread dough has doubled in volume, place it on a lightly floured work surface.
- Work on the dough gently and divide it into 8 equal portions.
- Shape each portion into a smooth ball and place it on a covered greased tray for second proofing.
- Work with one portion at a time and keep the others covered to prevent it from drying out.
- Unwrap the cookie dough which should be firm at this point in time.
- Slice the cookie dough into 8 equal portions.
- Use two pieces of plastic sheets or cling film and place each portion of the cookie dough between the sheets then and the press the dough to flatten it to form reasonably thin rounds of the dough.
- Take a ball of bread dough (it would have puffed up a little so don’t deflate it) and place the thin rounds of cookie dough on it to cover the top and sides of the bread dough.
- Hold the base of the cookie dough covered bread and press it onto some castor sugar.
- Then mark the top of the cookie dough with a cross hatch/ diamond pattern. [The pattern should be deep enough without cutting through the cookie dough layer into the bread in the center]
- Place this on the greased baking sheet.
- Repeat the process with the remaining cookie dough and bread dough.
- Keep them aside for an hour.
- Preheat the oven at 180C
- Bake the Melon Pans for about 25 minutes, until the top of the Melon Pan just starts turning brown.
- Cool it and serve the Melon Pan the day they’re made.
I used 1¾ cups of flour to make the bread dough but it turned out a little more than required hence i felt that the dough was less elastic than it should have been. So i would suggest you start with 1½ cups of flour and keep adding more till you reach the desired consistency.
I did not add any additional flavourings, but i feel that adding chocolate chips or raisins would add to the taste.
If the top of the Melon Pan browns too much then the underside of the bread will burn.)