Japanese melon bread (メロンパン) is a delicious and popular snack bread. It is a soft, sweet bread with a sugary and crisp, almond cookie crust. The bread doesn't have a melon flavour. Rather, the name comes from the melon design that is cut into the bread before baking.
I first discovered this treat in Japan as a young teen. It was my new favourite thing! I loved to have it with a chilled glass of Japanese royal milk tea. To my poor Japanese host mother's frustration (I'm sure), I spoilt more than a couple of dinners by filling up on these during the day.
I remember dealing with a very overpacked suitcase on the way back home. But it was all worth it to bring back ten buns of Japanese melon bread with me.
- Bread flour - a high-protein flour that gives structure and elasticity to yeasted breads.
- Light brown sugar
- Dry yeast
- Unsalted butter
- Cake and pastry flour - a low-protein flour that has been milled into a fine powder.
- Almond flour
- Pure vanilla extract
- Granulated sugar
Making the bread dough
Add bread flour, brown sugar, yeast, and salt into a large mixing and mix them together well.
Crack a large egg into a bowl. Use chopsticks to lightly whisk it, mixing the yolk and whites together. Then divide the egg evenly between two bowls. Set one aside to be used in the cookie crust later.
Add the other, along with water, in with the bread dry ingredients. Mix them in well with chopsticks.
Mix in the butter. Once the dough begins to come together, transfer it to a clean work surface. Knead it well for ten minutes. It's very important for the dough to be kneaded enough. Otherwise, you will end up with small, dense buns. The dough should spring back if pressed.
Form the kneaded dough into a ball and return it to the mixing bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for forty minutes.
Making the cookie crust
While the bread dough is rising, you can make the cookie crust. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the butter and brown sugar.
Add in the half egg reserved earlier and mix.
In another bowl, mix cake flour and almond flour together very well.
Add the dry ingredients in with the butter mixture and combine to form the cookie dough. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Put this dough into a zip-top sandwich bag. Form it into a flat rectangle at the bottom, as pictured below. Place the bag on a flat surface in the refrigerator to cool.
Back to the bread
Punch the bread dough and separate it into eight evenly sized balls. Cover the balls with plastic wrap, and let them sit for ten minutes before continuing with the next step.
Back to the cookie dough
Retrieve the bag of cookie dough from the fridge. Cut the sides of the bag open with scissors, leaving the bottom intact.
Cut the dough into eight even pieces and remove the pieces of dough from the bag.
Take one piece of the cookie dough and push in the corners to form it into a rough sphere. Place it between the two sides of the cut open plastic bag. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a circle a little bigger than a ball of the bread dough.
Combining the two
Place the circle of cookie dough into the palm of your hand.
Set a ball of bread dough in the centre.
Wrap the cookie dough around the bread dough, like pictured below. Where the bread dough is exposed will be the bottom of the bun.
Flip the bun over to be correct side up.
Gently dip the bun into a bowl of granulated sugar, making sure that the cookie crust is coated.
Use a knife to carefully cut a melon design into the bun, with four vertical and four horizontal lines. Be careful when cutting the design. You want to cut deep into the cookie dough, but without quite cutting through to the bread underneath. If you cut too far, the cookie crust will split apart while baking.
Place the bun on a baking sheet. Repeat the steps to make all of the other buns.
Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and allow the bread to ferment again for another twenty minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C.
Remove the plastic wrap and bake the melon bread for thirteen minutes. Cool the bread to room temperature. Enjoy your melon bread soon - fresh is best.
Bread flour - In a pinch, you can substitute bread flour 1:1 with all-purpose flour. Be sure to substitute by weight rather than by volume (substitute 200g bread flour with 200g all purpose flour). But, if possible, use bread flour for this recipe.
Cake and pastry flour - You can make a substitute for cake and pastry flour by doing the following:
Measure out ⅔ cup (85 g) of all purpose flour into a bowl. To properly measure flour with a measuring cup, you should gently spoon it into the measuring cup, then level out the top. Remove 4 teaspoons of the flour. Replace it with 4 teaspoons of cornstarch (a tenderizing ingredient).
Sift together twice. This will give it a texture similar to pastry flour. Because it will likely increase in volume from the sifting, measure out ⅔ cup (85 g) from this to use in the recipe.
I find that this melon bread is best when enjoyed fresh. However, if you wish to store it for up to two to three days, allow it to cool completely before sealing in an airtight zip-top bag.
Japanese melon bread is a sweet, fluffy bun covered in a crisp almond cookie crust. This popular snack is such a tasty treat!
1 ⅔ cups (200g) bread flour
3 ½ teaspoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry yeast
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (14.2g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ large egg, room temperature
110 ml water, room temperature
2 ½ tablespoons (35.5g) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup (50g) light brown sugar
½ large egg, room temperature
⅔ cup (90g) cake and pastry flour
⅓ cup (32g) almond flour
⅛ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
granulated sugar, for coating
Mix bread flour, brown sugar, dry yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Crack egg into a small bowl. Lightly whisk it with chopsticks to blend the yolk with the whites, then divide the egg evenly into two small bowls. Set one aside for the cookie dough. Add the other to the bread dry ingredients along with water. Mix well with chopsticks.
Mix in the butter. Once the dough starts to come together, move it to a clean work surface. Knead it well for 10 minutes. Make sure that you knead the bread enough, otherwise the buns will turn out small and dense. It should bounce back when pressed.
Form the kneaded bread dough into a ball and place it back in the mixing bowl. Covering with plastic wrap and let it rise for forty minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl, mix together butter and brown sugar. Add the half egg that you set aside earlier and mix.
In another bowl, mix the cake flour and almond flour together well.
Add the dry ingredients in with the butter mixture and mix well. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Put the dough into a plastic, zip-top sandwich bag. Shape it into a flat rectangle (see image in post above), and set it on a flat surface inside of the fridge to cool.
Punch the bread dough and separate it into 8 balls. Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes before proceeding with with next step.
Use scissors to cut both sides of the bag of cookie dough, leaving the bottom intact. Open the bag and cut the dough into eight even pieces. Remove the dough pieces from the bag.
Take one pieces of cookie dough and form it into a rough sphere shape. Place it between the two sides of the plastic bag. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a circle a little bigger than a ball of the bread dough.
Place the circle of dough in the palm of your hand. Set a ball of bread dough in the centre, and wrap the cookie dough around it. Only the very top of the bread dough should be poking out, which will be the bottom of the bun (see images in post above).
Flip the bun over in your hand to have the proper side facing upwards. Gently dip the bun into a bowl of granulated sugar, making sure that all of the cookie crust gets coated.
Using a knife, delicately cut a melon design into the bun with four vertical and four horizontal stripes. Be careful when cutting. You want to cut deep into the cookie layer, but without quite cutting through to the bread underneath. If you cut too far, the cookie layer will split apart while baking.
Place the bun on a baking sheet and repeat the steps to make the rest of the buns. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and allow the bread to ferment again for another 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C. Remove the plastic wrap from the baking sheet, and bake the bread for 13 minutes. Cool the bread to room temperature. Enjoy soon, fresh is best.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 253
- Sugar: 7.1 g
- Sodium: 157.8 mg
- Fat: 7.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 37.6 g
- Protein: 6.1 g
- Cholesterol: 36.6 mg
Keywords: Japanese melon bread