Saturday, May 17, 2014

Melon pan - We Knead to Bake 15

I know, I am on reverse mode - bread posts are numbered in descending order. I had tried the breads, that the We knead to Bake group baked when I was on a break, and am putting them up, as I bake them. It is time to share the experiment/ experience and be up to date and bake with the group.
In the month of March they had baked this Japanese bread that is a bread with a layer of cookie cover over it - a Melon Pan. Pan is Japanese for bread and since this one with a cross hatch pattern on the top resembles the melon that is thus cut and bent backwards to serve, the name.while we baked them plain, there is also a suggestion that some Japanese bakers do use melon extract for flavouring the buns.

The suggestion of bread and cookie being paired is intriguing and Aparna thought it was unusual enough for her to bake this; so did we. There is also a popular variation to cut the cookie portion in a teddy bear shape or start shapes just for decoration.
The bread dough for these buns are mostly done plain. However, chocolate chips, cream cheese, custard and pastry fillings are all possible and add to the flavours.
Both the bread and the cookie dough use eggs, which can be omitted if you do not eat eggs. That is how, I bake them, without eggs. I have used in both doughs substitutions - yoghurt in bread dough and milk in the cookie dough.The recipe given below makes 8 pans that are considerably big.
We are only two and I wanted to cut it down to bake fewer. I halved the recipe and made just 4 pans.
There is a youtube video on making these Melon pans that may help.

Melon Pan- Japanese Melon Bread
Adapted from A Bread A Day:Melon pan

For the bread dough
1 &3/4 cups all purpose flour (and a little extra, if required)
2 tablespoons milk powder
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold water
1/4 cup yoghurt whisked with a tablespoon of water (substitute for 1 egg - beaten)
1 tablespoon sugar
25 grams butter at room temperature

For  the cookie dough
1&1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
A large pinch of salt
60 grams butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup castor sugar
1/4 cup milk ( substituting for 1 large egg)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Fine granulated sugar for dusting

You may do it by hand or in the food processor. Whisk together the flour, salt and yeast.
In another bowl, whisk the yoghurt (or the egg) and the water to combine well.
Add the liquid mixture to the flour mix. Knead gently (at low speed) until they come together, then increasing the speed of the mixer or using brisk hand kneading, until you have a somewhat stiff dough.
Add the sugar and knead well.
Add the butter and knead until you have it fully incorporated in the dough and the dough comes together smooth and elastic.
The dough shall have to be well kneaded for the gluten to develop.
Shape the dough in a round and place it in an oiled bowl, turning the dough in the oil to coat. Allow it to rise to double it's volume, for about an hour or some more.
Meanwhile, prepare the cookie dough.
Sieve the flour, salt and the baking powder together to combile well.
Cream the butter in a bowl to fluffy, add the sugar and cream until the sugar dissolves. When the colour changes to pale yellow/ white, add in the milk (or egg), in small quantities to make it soft and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and the lemon zest.
Add to the above, the flour mix in dividends and beat together until just combined.
Roll the dough in a cylindrical shape and cover with the cling wrap. Place it in refrigeration until required to use.
Shaping it thus will make it easier to roll in circular discs later.
once the bread dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and placing it on a lightly floured surface, deflate gently.
Divide this into eight portions and roll each into a ball shape, like dinner rolls.
Place these on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Keep the rest of the divided portions covered while you work on one, so that they do not dry.
Roll all of the eight portions in rounded ball shape.
Take the cookie dough out which by now will be more manageable.
Divide this dough into eight.
Place a plastic sheet and place one portion on it, cover with another plastic sheet and press the dough down into a circle. The dough should be reasonably thin, but not so thin that it may tear.
If the dough becomes soggy, place it in the refrigerator for a few more minutes. Roll all of it in discs.
Now, the bread portions will have risen just about a little. Taking care not to deflate, lift one of the ball to the work surface.
Bring one cookie circle out and cover the bread ball with the cookie dough. this shall cover the top fully and the sides too, leaving the bottom open.
Take the granulated sugar in a flat dish. Holding the bottom of the prepared bread ball, roll the top and sides in the sugar to coat it well.
Place this back in it's place in the baking sheet.
Repeat the procedure for the seven more bread balls and prepare them for baking.
Using a scrapper or the blunt side of a knife, cut through the top of the bread rolls, deep enough that the cuts do not disappear while the bread develops and bakes. Make cross hatch pattern on all of the dough rolls.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Bake the Melon Pans for about 25 minutes until the tops of the read are just about brown. Too long in the oven, the bottom will burn.
Remove the baked melon pans from the oven, cool on wire racks.
Store these in an airtight container.
This recipe makes eight melon pans.

These are best served the day you have baked them. They do keep well for a day or two. Warm them a bit before serving and they are as good as freshly baked.
You might want to take a tour of all the melon pans that were done in March. It is just a cick away from here to Aparna's post where all of them have been added.

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Lata Raja.