Vegan Pineapple bun (HK style)/ Japanese Melon Pan/ メロン パンwith tangzhong “湯種法” ~ 純素港式菠蘿包
This is the follow-up story from the previous post: Vegan Cocktail Buns. Now is the time to achieve my promise. Actually, I wrote this post a few months ago, just forgot to post it. Sorry!
Melon Pan is buns and basically a soft, rich and sweet bread covered by a layer of crunchy cookie. The contrast of the soft, spongy inner bread and the crunchy outer cookie layer is what makes this bread special. The bottom bread dough will rise and cause the topping pastry layer to crack all over the surface. The cracked pastry layer is the soul of this bread, so crunchy and yummilicious! It also helps that these buns look attractive too.
Versions of the Melon Pan are also made in neighboring Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and also as far as Latin America (the Mexican conchas) which is possibly the origin of this Japanese bread. The Conchas are also bread rolls but covered with a coloured cinnamon flavoured cookie crust.
The bread dough in Melon Pan is mostly left plain, though some people add chocolate chips. Or others fill the buns with cream cheese, custard/ pastry cream or even chopped chocolate. You can go whatever you choose, plain or with some filling or flavour. You can also use your choice of flavouring for the cookie dough like chocolate, green tea, pineapple, etc if you like.
The one is famous about in Hong Kong, they filled the melon bun with a thick slice of real butter. This piece of thick butter, just like the Devil’s call attracted you. I tried it before in my childhood, but not anymore. I’m not brave enough to risk my health. But if you haven’t had it before, you may have a try. They’re so special and also yummy, though! 🙂
Both the bread and cookie dough are made with egg as this gives the bread a better texture. If you are vegan, you can leave them out. But substitute with a tablespoon of yogurt or milk for a good texture. Melon Pan is not difficult to make and you can even make the cookie part of the dough ahead, as it needs refrigeration.
Vegan Pineapple bun (HK style)/ Japanese Melon Pan/ メロン パン ~ 純素港式菠蘿包
Ingredient: (make 12)
For the Pumpkin Starter: tangzhong “湯種” Recipe adapted from my Vegan Mexican Buns
- 60g Pumpkin Puree
- 14 g Strong Flour/ Bread flour
- 43 g Water
- Cook all the three ingredients (starter) in a saucepan until thicken, set aside.
For the Cookie Dough/ Topping: total 270 g (22 to 23 g each)
- 125 g Self-raising flour/ cake flour
- 3/4 tsp Baking powder
- 20 g Custard powder
- 50 g Unrefined light brown sugar
- 20 g Pumpkin puree
- 40 g Vegan Butter, melted or room temperature
- 1 tbsp Nut milk, more or less
- Cookie dough/ Topping: Place all ingredients in a bowl. Mix with a spatula until flour mixture is fully incorporated.
- Shape the dough into a sausage like (it will make the dough easy to cut and flatten out later). Wrap in cling film. And refrigerate the dough until required.
For the Main Bread dough: Recipe adapted from my Vegan Mexican Buns
- All the above pumpkin starter
- 280 g Strong flour/ bread flour
- 100 g Pumpkin Puree
- 4 g Active dried yeast
- 40 – 50 ml lukewarm water
- 1 tbsp Flax meal + 3 tbsp water, mixed and set aside for 5 minutes
- 40 g Light brown sugar
- 20 g Oil
- Mix the dried yeast with part of the lukewarm water, set aside until foamy. Mix the flax meal with water and leave for 5 minutes.
- Sift bread flour, caster sugar, custard powder into a stand mixer. Add in the starter, pumpkin puree, and oil.
- Add warm water. DO NOT add all the water in one go, leave a little bit, to adjust the texture of the dough.
- Knead (on low speed on the machine) till everything come together as a dough and then change to medium-high speed) until you have a somewhat smooth and elastic dough.
- Shape the dough into a round, and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let it rise till double the size (about an hour or so).
- Now, you can prepare the cookie dough/ topping. See instruction above.
- Once the bread dough has doubled in volume, place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly grease your baking sheet or line it with parchment. Deflate the dough gently and divide it into 12 equal portions. Around 54 g each. Roll into rounds. Cover with a damp cloth or cling film and let the dough relax for 10 minutes.
- Slice the cylinder of cookie dough into 12 equal portions. Put two pieces of plastic sheets or cling film in between the cookie dough, and flatten the cookie dough for the topping.
- Roll the cookie dough into a circle shape. Remove the top layer of the cling film. With the bottom layer of the cling film still intact, wrap the cookie dough around the bun. Carefully remove the bottom layer of the cling film. At the same time, smoothing the edges of the cookie dough. NOTE: DO NOT cover the Entire bun with the cookie dough. Leave the bottom 2 ~ 3 cm uncovered. The bun needs the space to expand, otherwise, the cookie dough layer will burst and the resulting appearance will not be very pleasing.
- Use the dough cutter to mark with a cross hatch/ diamond pattern. The pattern should be deep enough (otherwise it will disappear when the bread rises and bakes) without cutting through the cookie dough. Or decorate as desired. Leave the buns to proof for the second time, about 25~ 30 mins.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven at 350°F, 180°C, 160°C fan oven for 20 to 23 minutes until the top of the Melon Pan just start turning brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
- Melon Pan is best eaten the day they made. However, reheat the buns in a hot oven the next day. Still so yummy!