Melon Pan (Japanese Cookie Crusted Bread)

Melon Pan is a Japanese bread that uses two different types of dough. Plain bread dough is used for the base and is covered with a cookie dough. The two are baked together. While most of the bread is plain it tastes mildly sweet because of the crust. This bread has a very light fluffy texture and tastes great hot out of the oven.

The dough is extremely sticky and needs a lot of work kneading. I started kneading with my hands and halfway through the process I wished I taken help from my electric tools. The dough does come together eventually and the sticky dough results in a really nice texture on the inside.

You will need
For the cookie dough
2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tbsp. beaten egg
1/3 cup cake flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
Bread flour for dusting

For the base
2/3 cup bread flour
1 tsp. nonfat milk powder
1 3/4 tbsp. sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 of a 1/4 oz. packet of Fleischmann instant yeast
1 tbsp beaten egg
1/3 cup warm water
1 tbsp. butter, softened
Bread flour dusting

4 tbsp. sugar

To make the cookie dough
Whisk the sugar and butter together. Add the beaten egg a little at a time and continue to whisk.

Sift the cake flour and baking powder twice. Fold it into the sugar mixture a little at a time.

Once all the dough is incorporated transfer the cookie dough on a plastic wrap. Shape into a cylinder, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

To make the base
Mix together the dry ingredients, bread flour, milk powder, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl. Whisk the beaten egg in warm water. Add the egg water to the flour and make a dough. Flour the working surface and transfer the dough to the surface. It will be very sticky. Knead the dough by picking it up and throwing it on the working surface. Fold it on itself and repeat for 3-4 minutes.

Break up the softened butter into pieces and work it into the dough. Continue kneading as before. Use a little flour on the surface if it gets too sticky.

Do no use too much flour. After about 15 minutes of kneading the dough should come together. It will be smooth and elastic. Shape it into a ball and place it in a bowl. Cover and keep aside until doubled in volume (about an hour).

To put it together
Transfer the risen dough to a floured work surface. Punch it down and roll it from one end to the other to remove the trapped air. Form a cylinder and cut it into 3 portions. Smooth out each portion into a ball and place it on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Cover and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the cooled cookie dough and cut it into 3 portions. Roll up the portions in a ball and place between two sheets of plastic. Press with a plate to form a disc about 3 inches in diameter. Place on a baking sheet covered in plastic and refrigerate.

On a clean plate put 4 tbsp. of sugar and keep aside. To put the cookie dough over the base pick up a portion of the base. Place a disc of the cookie dough over it. Turn it over and press down the cookie dough into the base. Now holding the ball by the base dip it in the plate of sugar such that the entire surface is coated with sugar.

Using the back of a knife etch a diamond pattern on the top.

Carefully place the dough back on the parchment covered baking sheet. Repeat with the other two portions of dough. Cover and keep aside for the second rising for about 45 minutes.

Preheat over to 350 F. Bake the melon pan for 20 minutes or until the bottom is brown and the top is just beginning to brown.

Transfer to a cooling rack and let them cool a little.

Serve warm. They are best eaten the day they are cooked.


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