Friday, 22 August 2008

For the Love of Bread Making

I have not been baking much for the past two weeks, as I had to spend most of my time coaching both my kids for their end-of-the-term examinations. As a stay-at-home-mum, I cannot cook up even one single excuse to avoid this extremely hair-pulling task. Before the kids went on to primary school, I have never thought that I have to "study" again! No kidding, I actually picked up new things and refreshed what I have learned many years ago. I am now fully equipped with the necessary skills to tackle mathematical problem sums without having to use 'x, y and z'. Although I must say, I am still struggling with this particular mathematical method known as 'supposition', even though it was 'introduced" to me since last year. My brain has gone too rusty to understand the logic behind this method. Having the discipline to sit down and go through the entire Science syllabus has also cleared some of the 'doubts' which I carried over since my primary school years ;') I am so glad this responsibility of mine is now over, well, at least, for the time being.

Anyway, to ease the mounting stress, I managed to squeeze in some time to bake a batch of Matcha Melon Pan earlier this week.

It has been a year since I last made these Japanese Melon Pans or Melon Buns. I have always wanted to try out the various melon pan recipes, alas, I am always put off by the amount of work involved in churning out these buns.

Besides the already time consuming dough making, there is this extra step of making the pastry or cookie-like dough. After the bread dough had gone through the 1st proofing, I wrapped each small dough with some semi-sweet chocolate chips (the original recipe calls for red beans), and then covered it with a layer of the pastry dough. The job is not done before each dough is coated with sugar and then carefully marked to give the signature pattern of a Japanese melon pan. The doughs were then left to rise for the 2nd time before they were ready for baking. I must be out of my mind when I decided to make everything from scratch, by hand. Not only did I knead the dough manually, I have also chosen to use a manual whisk instead of an electric mixer to prepare the pastry dough. Anyway, I do find the pure action of kneading the dough very soothing and therapeutic, what about you?

I'm not sure whether it was due to my inaccurate measurements of the ingredients, the pastry dough was very wet. It was impossible to form the mixture into a soft dough. I suspect I could have added in more eggs than necessary. To get over the situation, I added one tablespoon of flour at a time to the mixture. It turned out that I had to add an extra 4 tablespoons of flour in order to get the consistency right. The resulting pastry dough was very sticky and I couldn't really shape them into small rounds as recommended in the recipe. In the end I simply form them into small lumps and left to chill in the fridge. I also faced the daunting task of trying to cover the bread dough with the sticky pastry dough. The pastry dough got stuck to my fingers once I lay my hands on it. I tried my best to shape each dough with the help of a piece of plastic sheet, to avoid any direct contact with the pastry dough. As a result, the amount of washing up was more than necessary :'(

Despite all the hiccups, the finished products didn't look or taste too bad.

Unfortunately, these buns didn't keep well overnight. In fact, I noticed this happened to most of my bakes that have got matcha powder in the ingredient list. Nevertheless, as long as they were reheated before serving, they tasted as good as freshly baked ones.

As much as I would like to take photos to illustrate the various steps involved, I was too pre-occupied with the entire preparation process. So, for those of you who are keen to give this a try, you may hop over to this site for some step-by-step photos. Although it's written in Japanese, you will at least get an idea how to go about it. While writing up this post, I've also managed to find a video clip here. Hope you will find them useful.

If you ever give this a go, do drop by to let me know whether you have any problem with the pastry, and how you went about making them. I've yet to attend any baking courses or workshops. As such, I am totally clueless whether I am doing things right? I would really love to hear and learn from you.

Happy Baking :)

Matcha Melon Pan(抹茶菠箩面包)

(makes 12 buns)

Bread Dough:
300g bread flour
3g matcha powder ( I used 1/2 teaspoon)
30g caster sugar
5g salt
7g (about 1 & 3/4 tsp) instant yeast
210g (about 200ml) milk ( I used low-fat fresh milk)
30g unsalted butter (bring to room temperature)

Pastry layer
50g unsalted butter (bring to room temperature)
100g caster sugar
80g egg, lightly beaten
200g cake flour ( I added extra 4 tablespoons)
3g baking powder (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
6g matcha powder ( I used 1 teaspoon)

some semi-sweet chocolate chips
some caster sugar for dusting/coating

  1. Sift bread flour and matcha powder into a mixing bowl. Add in caster sugar and salt. Add in instant yeast and mix the dry mixture a little.
  2. Make a well in the centre and add in milk. Mix the ingredients with hand and slowly form it into a soft dough.
  3. Transfer dough to work surface. Knead until the dough longer sticks to the work surface. This should take less than 5 mins.
  4. Flatten the dough and add in the butter. Continue to knead. Initially, the dough will be very oily, after a few kneading, the butter will be absorbed by the dough. Continue to knead until the dough no longer feels sticky to your hand and will not stick to the work surface. This should take about 15 to 20 mins. (Alternately, you can knead the dough with your standing mixer or your bread machine.)
  5. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and let proof for about 40 ~ 60mins, or until double in bulk.
  6. While the dough is proofing, prepare the pastry layer. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until mixture turns pale. Add in the lightly beaten egg gradually. Beat well after each addition.
  7. Sift over cake flour, matcha powder and baking powder. Mix with a spatula until flour mixture is fully incorporate. Gather to form a soft dough. Divide dough into 12 equal portions, about 40g each, roll into rounds. Place doughs in a tray and let the dough chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
  8. Punch out the gas in the bread dough and divide into 12 equal portion, about 45-50g each. Roll into rounds. Cover with a damp cloth or cling wrap and let the dough rest for 10mins.
  9. Take one piece of bread dough, flatten it into a small disc and wrap in some chocolate chips. Roll it into rounds again. Repeat the same for the rest of the remaining doughs.
  10. Remove chilled pastry dough from the fridge. Take a piece of pastry dough and roll out in between 2 layers of cling wraps, big enough to cover the bread dough. (I cut out two small sheets from a clear plastic bag). Remove the top layer of the cling wrap of the pastry dough. Place one bread dough on the pastry dough. With the bottom layer of the cling wrap still intact, wrap the pastry dough around the bread dough. Carefully remove the bottom layer of the cling wrap, at the same time, smoothing the edges of the pastry dough. NOTE: DO NOT cover the Entire bread dough with the pastry dough. Leave the bottom 2 ~ 3 cm uncovered. The dough needs the space to expand, otherwise the pastry dough will burst and the resulting appearance will not be very pleasing.
  11. Coat the exterior with caster sugar.
  12. With a plastic dough scraper, cut out patterns that resembles the 'veins' of a leaf on the surface, or decorate as desired. Place dough on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Leave to proof for the second time for about 40 ~ 50mins, loosely covered with a damp towel or cling wrap.
  13. Bake in pre-heated oven at 170 deg C for 10 ~ 12 mins. (I baked mine for 15~20mins) Let cool completely before storing. Note that these buns don't keep well, if left overnight, do reheat them before serving.
Recipe source: 酥皮面包大集合by 佐藤律子


Kitchen Corner said...

Your melon pan looks cute and yummy!

:) said...

your matcha melon pan looks lovely..
Planning to make your japanese melon pans...hopefully soon :)
btw I found out that you had lock us from copying your recipe...:(
anyway love your bakes...

Happy Homebaker said...

Thanks Grace :)

Hi myaddictions, sorry for the I find it very frustrating whenever I found out that others have copied my recipes (especially those I have translated in my own words from Chinese to English), without any acknowledgment. I do hope you understand my position as there is quite a fair bit of effort involved in coming up with each blog posting...from photos to recipes and providing appropriate links so that reader will find it useful. I hope you are able to print the recipe from the blog pages? In the mean time, I will explore and include features that will convert my recipes into printer-friendly documents.

JY said...


Hmm.. this is interesting. How do you lock the text copy?

Afternoontea said...


My nightmare will start next yr, my daughter will be in pri one then. Begining to feel the stress now.
I baked a batch of Hk style "polo" bun last nite, wondering how are they related between melon bun,mexican bun & polo bun ? Yvonne

Passionate About Baking said...

Finally, "exam" is over for you and you're back to baking. I always look forward to your posts. The pictures are so beautiful and the instructions are clear!
Like what my@dditctions said is true. I empathised your position too! I also dislike those people who copied and didn't credit the "originator"!
Btw, you can translate the japanese blog or chinese blog from Google Translate: Although it's not very accurate, but somehow, you can make some meaning of it. :p
Keep up your sharing, and thanks for all your postings!

:) said...

yes i understand your 用心良苦 :)
keep on baking ya...

Anonymous said...

HBB, i'm still waiting for that hair pulling episode in my home! :D my son'll start first grade soon, so i know i will go through "school" again, which i didn't really fond of, especially regarding math!

no matter what you said, i think those melon pans look very good!

Anonymous said...

hey thanks so much for sharing this... now that I am more or less recovered from my trigger thumb problems... I can't wait to try baking breads again!!! :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi JY, you can get the relevant html codes by doing a google search, add the appropriate codes to your blogger template.

Hi Yvonne, I fully understand your anxiety!!
From what I have read, the method of making these buns are more or less the same...they differ mainly in texture of the pastry dough. I believe the HK style buns are more oily and more crispy than the Jap ones.

Hi Passionate About Baking, thanks for link, it certainly helps!

Hi Eliza, don't worry, it should be a wonderful experience for him. I had chance to visit my niece school, in California, when she was in first grade, it was fun. It's a totally different story over here :'(

Hi Mamabliss, I look forward to reading about your bread making :)

Anonymous said...

I was wondering how come you don't need to disolve and let the yeast active in warm water first? Also is the milk warm or cold? And can I ommit the chocolate chips (or replace it by something else) ? Thanks for sharing the recipe : )

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi, I use Instant yeast, which doesn't requires dissolving in water to activate it. If you are using Instant Dry Yeast, you will need to dissolve it in water before using, refer to the instructions on the yeast package. Also do note that the amount to be used is slightly different. You may google for info on the different types of yeast. I use room temperature milk. You amy omit the chocolate chips. Hope this helps.

Unknown said...

Very nice and delicious. Thanks for sharing this!