Oh Dear Melonpan

Melonpan is one of the most popular sweet breads in Japan. My mother loved it, and so did our Grizedale Arts team. It is made using an enriched bread dough which is then covered in a thin layer of crispy cookie dough.

The history of Melonpan goes back to the early 20th century, and was introduced to Japan by an Armenian baker who worked in Japanese hotels in 1910. The bread is also similar to Concha (from Mexico) and Bollobaau (from Hong Kong). It is a cultural fusion and I think it is one of the most interesting hybrid foods in Japan. 

Ingredients:

For bread dough:

Strong flour 200g | Sugar 15g | Salt 3g | Dry yeast 3.5g | A half egg, beaten at room temperature | Slightly warm water 110ml  | Unsalted butter 15g at room temperature 

For the crispy cookie dough:

Plain flour 90g | Almond powder 30g | Sugar 50g | Unsalted butter 40g | A half egg, beaten at room temperature | Granulated sugar 20g for topping

Method:

  • Start with the bread dough. Put the flour in a bowl – add the salt on one side and the sugar and yeast on the other side. In a separate bowl, mix the beaten egg and water together and then pour into the flour bowl over the yeast side. Mix everything together until it becomes easier to knead.
  • Knead the unsalted butter into the dough on a clean table until the dough becomes smooth.
  • Put it back into the bowl, cover with cling film and put in the oven at 40°C for 30 minutes.
  • Then make the cookie dough. Put unsalted butter and sugar in a bowl and whip well until it becomes white. 
  • Put in the half egg and mix well. Then sieve the flour and almond powder in and mix. Shape the dough into a 3cm diameter bar, wrap with cling film and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes. 
  • Take the fermented dough out of the oven and kneed before dividing it into 8 balls (see image below). Cover with cling film and leave for 10 minutes at room temperature. 
  • Take the cookie dough bar out of the fridge. Cut into 8 pieces, rolling each piece into a ball before flattening into a circular shape of 5cm diameter (see image below).
  • Set granulated sugar on a flat plate. Coat one side of the flattened cookie dough disks in the granulated sugar (see image below).
  • Then, keeping the sugar coated side to the outside, wrap the cookie dough around the bread dough balls.
  • Mark the surface of the cookie dough wrapped bread balls similar to melon skin (see image below).
  • Leave to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. 
  • Bake for 14 minutes at 190°c.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool before eating.