Matcha Melon Pan (Japanese Sweet Bread Buns)

There's a place in Echo Park called Winsome that sells the most epic matcha conchas. They are so light and fluffy and perfectly matcha-y and I dream about them. They're so good, Munchies devoted an article to them. A few blocks down the street from me, there's a coffee bread stuffed with red bean and mochi at a Taiwanese bakery called 85°C. I've been trying to forget about them because, skinny jeans, but I can't, they're so darn yum! Both of these sweet bread buns have a magical crunchy, cookie crust. It's a crust that I dream about. And because three's better than two, and because I can't help myself, I thought I'd bring yet another cookie crusted bun to the mix! Melon pan aka Japanese sweet bread bun. It isn't actually melon flavored--it's name comes from the fact that it's cookie top's cracks and crevices resemble a melon rind. Take a look for yourself, don't they look dimply like a cantaloupe's skin? 

I've adapted these buns from my friend Maryanne's recipe. These buns have a little extra butter and sugar, and the tops, are a bit crispier and crunchier, but honestly I didn't change much--that girl sure can bake! And because I like big buns and I cannot lie, these buns are big. And they look like melons. And yes, I feel like I baked up a Sir Mix-a-Lot song... 

PS - I'm taking over King Arthur Flour's Instagram this weekend for their March #bakealong, and talking all things Butterflake Herb Loaf!

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MATCHA MELON PAN (JAPANESE SWEET BREAD BUNS)

Adapted from The Little Epicurean

Makes 8 buns

INGREDIENTS

BUNS

  • 2/3 c. whole milk, heated to 110°F
  • 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/3 c. + 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. dry milk powder
  • 2 Tbsp. matcha powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

COOKIE TOPPING

  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. matcha powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

TOOLS

  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Stand mixer
  • Whisk
  • Baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Sharp knife

FIX

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together yeast, milk, and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Let stand for 6-7 minutes or until foamy. Fit the mixer with the dough hook then add 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 3 cups flour, dry milk powder, matcha, salt, and eggs. Mix on low, until dough starts to come together and look shaggy, then increase speed to medium and add the butter in pieces, bit by bit. Mix for 4 minutes or until dough is starting to look smooth. If the dough looks a little wet, add more flour, in 1 tablespoon increments. Mix for 2-3 more minutes until smooth and elastic. Form dough into a round.
  2. Grease a large bowl then place dough inside, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 1-1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size.
  3. While the dough is rising, make the cookie topping. In the bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream sugars and butter until light and fluffy on medium speed. Decrease speed to low and add flour, matcha powder, and salt. Add egg white and vanilla extract and beat until a dough is formed. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge until ready to use. Preheat oven to 375°F, 20 minutes before proofing time ends.
  4. When the dough has doubled in size, turn out and cut into 8 pieces. Shape into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, with at least 3 inches between each piece. Divide the cookie topping into 8 pieces and roll out, on a lightly floured surface, until thin and big enough to full cover each ball. Place on ball and pat down lightly. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size. Use a sharp knife to cut desired pattern, like lines or grids.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
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