Despite being familiar with melonpan for quite some time, I’d never actually had the opportunity to try one until our trip to Japan last year. During an excursion around bustling Tokyo, we chanced upon a little café located along a quiet alley in Asakusa. As soon as we laid eyes on their cookie dough encrusted buns on display out the front, we stopped and bought one. Since then, I’ve always wanted to make my own.
In a recent post about red bean buns, I quite ardently mentioned that I’ve been craving bread. Preferably soft, sweet Japanese bread. To continue with this theme, I attempted (finally!) to make some melonpan. Like anpan, melonpan is another popular type of sweet bun from Japan, made by covering a soft bread dough in a thin layer of sugar-sprinkled cookie dough. Despite its name, the buns are not traditionally melon flavoured (though it is becoming popular for people to add melon flavouring, among others). The sweet cookie-covered bun actually gets its name from its cross-hatched appearance, which supposedly resembles the rind of a rock melon/cantaloupe.
Melonpan is similar to Hong Kong bo luo bao (pineapple bun) and Korean soboro ppang (streusel bread) in appearance, but is typically not so heavy, with a lighter crust and less buttery bread. This doesn’t make the Japanese variant any less tasty though!
Melonpan is not overly complicated to make, though there is a fair bit of waiting involved. But it is definitely worth it. Plus, there is something truly magical about lightly carving diamonds into the soft, pre-baked cookie shell and making them glitter with sugar crystals. Best eaten fresh out of the oven, when the sugar cookie crust is still crunchy and the bun is soft and fluffy!
Melonpan メロンパン (Japanese Melon Bread)
soft milk buns topped with a crisp cookie dough crust | yield: 6 small buns
Cookie Dough Layer (Pâte Sablée):
3/4 cup cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons egg, beaten
Milk Bread Dough:
1 1/2 cups bread flour (high protein flour)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons full cream milk, warm
4 tablespoons water, warm
1 tablespoon egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter, softened
for the shell:
previously prepared cookie dough (from above recipe)
some large-grain sugar, for dipping
The full recipe has been moved to our new website, Milk & Dust.
Check out the recipe here: Homemade Melonpan メロンパン: Perfect soft milk buns with cookie dough crust