Melon bread

My Japanese grandfather was from the countryside, or inaka, and even though he ran a successful business in Tokyo you could always tell he preferred it there. Every weekend he and my grandmother would leave the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and go back to their home Kamakura, where the sight of the sea, the woods and Mount Fuji would help him unwind.

When my sister and I would come for the summers and winters, he would always go down to the local bakery in the highland area and bring us some melon pan, or melon bread, which was my particular favourite. I recently had a massive craving for it, and being miles away from my regular supplier I recreated the recipe for myself. The funny thing about melon pan is that it doesn’t usually have any melon, or any melon flavouring in it – the name comes from how the bread rolls look once they are scored and baked. To make things interesting I added some food colouring and melon essence – the latter I think is necessary!

Melon pan is a combination of biscuit and bread – a bread roll topped with a melon flavoured biscuit. While it sounds odd I assure you it has such a light, delicate flavour, and not as overly sugary or sweet as you might expect! The recipe requires powdered milk – it’s a great way to use up formula powder if you have little ones that have grown out of it, and want to reduce waste.

Melon bread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This Japanese melon bread recipe is part-way between a biscuit and a cake - it's delicately sweet and simply delicious.
Recipe type: Baking
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: Dozen
  • 500g white flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 5g yeast
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 190g water (room temperature)
  • 5g powdered milk
  • 2g baking powder
  • salt
  • 5 drops melon extract (I used Uncle Roy’s, bought on Amazon)
  • green food colouring
  1. Sieve and mix 300g flour, 36g of caster sugar, and all the yeast and powdered milk in a bowl.
  2. Add the 190g of water slowly, mixing until it forms a dough.
  3. Start kneading the dough on your counter until it stops sticking and add 20g of butter.
  4. Incorporate the butter by kneading, set the dough back in the bowl, cover, let it rise for an hour.
  5. Now for the biscuit topping – whip the butter and sugar, add food colouring and the melon extract. Sieve the remaining flour, and add baking powder and mix until it forms a dough.
  6. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and let it set in the fridge for twenty minutes.
  7. While the dough is setting, divide the bread dough into twelve portions and allow to rise further.
  8. Once the cookie dough has set, roll it out using a rolling pin and cut out 12 circles.
  9. Place the bread dough rolls on a greased baking tray.
  10. Top each with the cookie dough, and score the top.
  11. Let these rise a third time while the oven heats up to 180 degrees.
  12. Pop them in and cook til they have browned – mine took 20 minutes to bake.

This recipe takes time. The same amount of time to make biscuits and bread, and only to end up with one batch of baked products to show for it – but it’s so worth it.

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Enjoy them with coffee, tea, a glass of milk or even a cup of hojicha.

melon pan/bread

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