Originally spelled メロンパン, this bread is a type of brioche with a thin layer of sweet paste on top.
There’s usually no melon flavor, the name would come from the shape of the sweet paste on top.
Pan would come from pão, the Portuguese word for bread. The Portuguese first arrived in the 16th and since then some words stayed in the Japanese language. The diphtong “ão” is commonly translated into “an“, so that’s how it became “pan“, even though it is already the word for bread in Spanish.
A story states that the melon pan would have been created around 1910, when Okura Kihachiro, a successful Japanese entrepreneur, brought an Armenian baker in Japan. Okura’s son, Kishichiro, is credited with introducing the automobile into Japan.
Another story would say that at first, the melon pan was oval and would represent a Korean melon. During the 1930s, a bakery in Kobe (west Japan) would have sold a sweet bread with a sweet paste on top, shaped like a rising sun. They called it サンライズ or “sunraizu“, translated as “sunrise“. In some part of Western Japan, the melon pan is still called “sunraizu“, but there’s no difference with Tokyo’s melon pan.
The Japanese melon pan is similar to the pineapple bun, popular in China but without the sweet paste on top, and the concha, which is also a brioche dough topped with a sweet paste, originating from Mexico and popular in South America.
Nowadays, the melon pan is very popular in Japan and you can find some in any convenience store. Many varieties came up in the recent years and you can find melon pan with different flavors. You can actually find melon pan with melon flavor now!
For the melon pan dough
- 250 g all-purpose flour
- 4 g salt
- 50 g sugar
- 8 g fresh yeast or 3g dried yeast
- 1 egg
- 60 g milk at room temp.
- 50 g water at room temp.
- 40 g butter
- 100 g pâte fermentée viennoise
For the sweet paste dough
- 75 g butter
- 75 g sugar
- 1 large egg or 75g
- 220 g all-purpose flour
- 3 g baking soda
For the melon pan dough
Mix everything together for 3min in 1st speed then 7min in 2nd speed.
Let it rest for 1 hour.
Divide the dough into 15 pieces of 40g.
Let them rest for 15 min.
Put the sweet paste on top of the melon pan. Ball them together slightly.
Gently mark the sweet paste with a dough scraper.
Cover the doughs and let prove for 2 hours in a hot space but below 28°C.
Bake at 180°C for around 15 minutes.
Take them out and let them cool down on a tray.
Don’t forget to check out the timelapse video of the baking on my Instagram below :