Melonpan (melon bread) is a Japanese snack food resembling little bread rolls. Western people might find them a little strange as they are a combination of sweet and non-sweet foodstuffs: bread wrapped in cookie with cream cheese filling. The name appears to originate from the fact that they resemble melons (which might not be evident from the images) - they do not necessarily contain melon.
Here are the perfected instructions on how to make melonpan, based on several recipes I found on the Internet and the iron chef -grade insight from Yakitate!! Japan. The recipe yields 16 melonpans.
Please note that this is just impression of a gaijin who is not even sure if he has ever tasted genuine melonpan. Tradition infringements are bound to exist and apologies extended if necessary.
- 7 dl wheat flour (replace half of the flour with spelt for extra flavor)
- 1,5 dl water
- 1 package of dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 50 g butter or margarine
- 1 egg
Warm the water to about 45 degrees Celsius and place in a bowl. Mix in dry yeast and sugar. Wait a few minutes until the yeast has activated, which causes fine foam to appear. Add salt, melted butter and the egg. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Kneed the dough for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl and place in a warm location. Let the dough rise for an hour.
While the bread dough is rising, prepare the cookie dough and the filling.
- 6 dl flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 100 g butter or margarine
- 0,5 dl sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 0,25 dl non-fat milk
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
- half a cantaloupe
Melt the butter and place in a bowl. Add sugar. While stirring, grate cantaloupe pulp into the bowl. Add grated lemon peel and egg yolks. Mix baking powder with flour. Add flour mixture in several parts while stirring. Finally, add milk and mix the dough well. The dough should be quite elastic and have a somewhat strange color (due to the cantaloupe). Cover the bowl and place in fridge.
- 200 g cream cheese with no salt (mascarpone might be great, too)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- juice from half a lemon
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
Assembly and baking
When the bread dough has completed it's first fermentation, it is ready to be assembled.
Divide the bread dough into 16 equal pieces. With floury hands, shape them into bread rolls. Then, flatten them by pressing the rolls with the palm of your hand to make them disc shaped. Insert spoonful of filling to the center of the disc. Dip the tips of your fingers into water. Lift the edges of the bread dough so that they meet at the top and enclose the filling. Pinch to close the opening. The seam may remain at the top as it will be covered with cookie dough.
Divide also the cookie dough into 16 equal pieces. Flatten them into discs as described above (after assembling a few melonpans, you will get hang of the correct size). Cover the bread rolls with the cookie dough discs. The cookie dough should wrap all over the visible part of the bread rolls, but not under them. Cut very shallow perpendicular lines to the cookie dough in order to create a melon-like texture to the baked melonpans. As the cookie dough warms up, it becomes more sticky, so it will help to keep the unused part in the fridge.
Set oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Cover the assembled melonpans and let them rise for 20 minutes.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until the surface has turned medium brown.
The melonpans are best when freshly baked.