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Japanese Melon Bread (Vegan)

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.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Resting Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time2 hrs 5 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 6

Ingredients

Bread

  • 1 cup bread flour (127g)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar (24g)
  • ¼ tsp salt (1.5g)
  • ½ tsp instant yeast (1.6g)
  • ⅓-½ cup soy milk* (80-120ml)
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil (30ml)

Cookie Topping

  • 2 tbsp refined coconut oil (30ml) softened
  • 3 tbsp sugar (36g)
  • 1 tbsp soy milk (15ml) room temperature
  • ½ cup cake flour (57g)
  • ¼ tsp baking powder (1g)
  • ¼ tsp matcha powder** (0.5g) optional

Instructions

  • PREPARE BREAD DOUGH: In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and instant yeast. Stir in milk and oil till combined, then turn out dough onto a floured surface.
  • KNEAD: 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.
  • PROOF: 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.) 
  • PREPARE COOKIE DOUGH: While your dough is rising, prepare your cookie dough. Cream together coconut oil and sugar, then beat in milk until well combined. Sift in flour, baking powder, and matcha powder. Mix until a uniform dough forms. Form dough 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.    
  • CHECK BREAD DOUGH: 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: 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. 
  • ASSEMBLE MELON PAN: 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. 
  • CREATE MELON PATTERN: 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.
  • 2ND PROOF: Place the breads on a 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. 
  • PREHEAT & BAKE: While the dough is proofing, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Bake for about 15 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. 

Notes

*Start with cup (80ml) and add more milk, 1 tbsp (15ml) at a time, as needed if your dough is too dry.
**This is purely for color and adds no flavor to the bread, so feel free to omit.