I remember the first time I saw melon pan on cookingwithdog (a japanese cooking channel on youtube), I thought this bread was melon flavoured. Surprisingly, it did not contain any melon at all. I believe it got its name based on the way it looks, similar to how chinese pineapple buns got its name.
I’ve always been curious to try them but was too lazy to make it. I got to try it when I went J-town (Japan town) but instead, I had the matcha version of it in the form of a turtle bread. I thought it looked so adorable that I wanted to try making it myself. A few years later, after a few online tutorials, I finally got around to making this turtle bread.
I actually had to make this recipe twice because I messed up the first time round. I also realized things I could’ve done better.
The first time I made this, I followed the instructions from cookingwithdog to a T. The problem was they used instant yeast in that recipe whereas I had active yeast. I soon learned that you have to activate the active yeast in water first before I could use it whereas with instant yeast, you could just mix it in with your dry ingredients right away. I also failed to dissolve the dry milk powder in warm liquid leaving my dough with a strange grainy texture.
When I made this the second time round, I activated the yeast in warm water. I also dissolved the dry milk powder in there as well to get rid of that grainy texture. The dough was much better the second time round.
After the dough has completed its first proof, I put on the turtle backs. I simply added some matcha powder to the cookie dough recipe to help give its signature green color. Though the original recipe said that I should keep it in the fridge so that it’s easier to handle, I found it easier for them to be a bit warm so that it’s more malleable.
I wrapped the cookie dough around the proofed dough and dipped the turtle shell in sugar.
After coating it with sugar, I scored the turtle shell with its signature diamond pattern using a pastry cutter.
Once done, I let it proof for another 40 mins and I baked it for another 12. The result were these cute turtle breads
Turtle Bread – Melonpan recipe
- 140 g Bread Flour
- 25 g Sugar
- 1/3 tsp Salt
- 5 g Dry Milk Powder
- 3 g Active Yeast
- 1 tbsp Beaten Egg
- 70 ml Warm Water
- 15 g Softened Unsalted Butter
- Bread Flour for dusting
- 25 g Softened Unsalted Butter
- 35 g Sugar
- 25 g Beaten Eggs
- 80 g All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Matcha Powder
- Bread Flour for dusting
- First, prep the cookie dough. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale in color. Then, slowly whisk in the beaten eggs a little bit at a time. Once combined, add in the flour, baking powder, and matcha powder.
- Form the cookie dough into a log and wrap it in plastic wrap and allow to set in the fridge for an hour. The cookie dough will be the "topping" for your melon pan.
- While the cookie dough is setting, prepare the bread dough. First, preheat the oven to 340F.
- Then, activate the yeast in the warm water and a bit of the sugar so the yeast has something to eat. Once it starts foaming, add in the dry milk powder and the beaten egg.
- In a separate bowl, combine the bread flour, rest of the sugar, and salt. Slowly add in the wet ingredients. Combine with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough ball forms.
- Knead the dough until it becomes more tacky. Then, add in the softened butter and knead it into the dough. Knead until the dough his no longer sticky to the dough and it looks smooth and glossy - about 8-10 mins.
- Form the dough into a ball and allow to rise for about 40 mins or until doubled in volume.
- Punch out the air from the dough and cut separate the dough into 4 dough balls. Use the remaining dough to make smaller dough balls for the turtle's head and limbs. Once done, allow to rest for 20 mins.
- After it has rested for 20 mins, add the cookie dough to the bread dough to form the turtle shell. Dip the turtle shell in sugar and then score in the turtle shell pattern using a bench scraper.
- Assemble the turtle and allow to rise for another 40 mins.
- Bake the turtle bread for about 12 mins or until slightly browned. Allow to cool. Give the turtle a face however you'd like - I piped melted chocolate to make my turtle's face.
Copyright Cooking with Team J