Soft, fluffy pillows of bread hugged by a crunchy, sweet cookie top. This vegan version of a classic Japanese bakery good has all the flavor of a traditional melon bread, but made with wholesome ingredients.
What is Melon Bread?
Japanese melon bread was my favorite sweet bread as a kid (called melon pan in Japanese, or メロンパン). Whenever we went to a Japanese bakery I would always go for the melon bread. It’s like a sweet bread plus a cookie, in one! What could be better?? Don’t be fooled by its name though — it doesn’t actually have melon in it (a fact I was not aware of until last year when I first started making my own). It’s called melon bread simply because the cookie on top of the bread is cut in such a way that it makes the bread look like a melon. Misleading huh, like why didn’t they just add a little bit of melon flavor in the bread too?
So if there’s not actually melon in it, what is melon pan made from? Well, it can actually be made quite easily from just 9 plant-based ingredients:
- Bread Flour
- Granulated Sugar
- Instant Yeast
- Soy Milk (or other plant-based milk)
- Oil: melted refined coconut oil, olive oil, or vegetable oil will work
- Cake Flour: or use 1/2 cup – 1 tbsp all purpose flour, and add 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Baking Powder
- Matcha Powder, optional for a greener color
That being said, you can add some pureed melon or melon juice into the dough if you want (just cut back on some of the milk) but they are equally delicious without. You could also add some chocolate chips into the batter — now that would really be good. I always forget to add them, but if you love chocolate I highly recommend folding some chocolate chips into the dough. Honestly there are lots of variations you can make, so I’ll probably have future posts dedicated to different flavors of this melon bread 😀 Also note, I added 1/4 tsp of matcha powder to the cookie dough, but this is purely for color and you can’t even taste it. So if you don’t have matcha, just omit it.
I know there are a lot of steps to make this and it may look daunting, but it’s really not that much work. The longest part of it is just letting the dough proof, but everything else is very straightforward. I realize a video may be more helpful than the instructions I have written, so hopefully I’ll get a video up soon, but until then you can watch Peaceful Cuisine on youtube — there’s a great melon bread video that actually inspired me to make my own! The cookie layer may break a little when you wrap it around the dough, but don’t worry! As long as it’s sticking to the dough, you’re fine. It may not have the same beautiful melon pattern but it will taste just as delicious 🙂
Check out these other sweet breakfast options!
I hope you love this bread as much as I do! I’m not sure if I did a great job of explaining each step, so if you’re confused about anything please leave a comment down below and I will reply ASAP! Both of my parents loved this bread — which is rare because my mom is the most skeptical about vegan anything — so I guarantee you will not be disappointed. If you do make it, please don’t forget to leave a comment below and/or tag me in your photo on instagram @ellielikes.cooking and let me know how you liked it! Happy baking 🙂
Japanese Melon Bread (Vegan)
- 1 cup bread flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1/4-1/2 cup plant-based milk*
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp matcha powder** optional
- 2 tbsp refined coconut oil melted
- 1 tbsp plant-based milk
- In a large bowl, mix together flours, sugar, salt, and instant yeast. Stir in milk and oil till combined, then turn out dough onto a floured surface.
- Knead with your hands for about 10 minutes, adding flour if needed. When ready, the dough should be smooth and just slightly sticky, but it shouldn’t stick to your hands. Check out these tips for checking if your dough is sufficiently kneaded.
- Roll your dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl. Place a tea towel or saran wrap over the bowl and let the dough rest until doubled in size. I place mine in the oven on the “proof” setting, but if yours does not have this setting you can simply just turn the light on. You can also leave it out at room temperature, but your rise may take longer. The warmer the environment, the faster it will rise. (Don’t rush it though. Flavors deepen as the dough proofs.)
- While your dough is rising, prepare your cookie dough. Sift cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and matcha. Add oil and milk and mix until combined. Form into a ball, wrap in saran wrap, and store in the fridge for 20 minutes. Take out and let rest at room temperature until ready to use. You want your cookie dough to be rollable but not wet.
- My bread dough usually takes about 1 hour to proof. To test if it is done, poke a hole in the center of the dough with your finger. If the hole doesn’t close back up, it is ready.
- Punch down your dough and flip onto a non-stick surface. Divide the bread dough into 8 small pieces and roll each into a ball.
- Divide the cookie dough into 8 small pieces. Roll each out into a flat disk shape. Place one bread dough ball in the center of one disk. Wrap the cookie dough around the bread dough so that it covers most of the surface. Repeat with remaining dough.
- To make the “melon” pattern on the breads, make 3 shallow cuts across the top of the cookie dough, then make 3 more cuts in the opposite direction to produce the melon pattern.
- Place the breads on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with saran wrap. Place in a warm environment and let rise for about 20 minutes. It should increase in size during this second proof.
- While the dough is proofing, preheat the oven to 325°F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned on top. The bread should feel slightly firm but still soft inside. Transfer to a cooling rack and let the breads cool completely.
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