When I visited Japan last year, I could not pass by a bakery without walking in. The aroma of freshly baked goods was just too enticing to ignore. Although each bakery had their own set of unique pastries, one bread commonly found among them was melon pan. Melon pan is a bread that looks like a melon but deceivingly, does not taste like melon. It can also be found in Taiwanese, Chinese and Latin American bakeries (heard of conchas?) Keeping this in mind, I decided to make my own version of melon pan, fusing it with a classic American dessert, the strawberry shortcake. Here are strawberry shortcake melon pans with macerated strawberries and rosewater whipped cream for the win!
- 200 ml water, lukewarm
- 5 grams active dry yeast
- 30 grams granulated sugar
- 290 grams bread flour
- 80 grams cake flour
- 5 grams salt
- 10 grams dry milk powder
- 30 grams butter, softened
- 1/3 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 150 grams ap flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 50 grams butter, melted
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp rosewater syrup
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- Prepare the dough. Combine warm water with sugar. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for 5 minutes or until mixture becomes foamy.
- Add flours, salt, dry milk powder and yeast mixture in bowl of stand mixture. Mix until combined. Add softened butter and knead dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let proof in warm area until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cookie dough topping. Combine strawberries with sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a soft boil over medium heat. Cook down the strawberries until softened, about 5 minutes. Puree the mixture until smooth. Let cool slightly.
- Combine flour with baking powder. Add melted butter, sugar, egg yolk and pureed strawberries. Mix together until well combined. Transfer dough onto plastic wrap. Shape into a log and cover. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Punch down dough. Portion into 8 pieces, about 2.5 ounces each. Form into small balls and place on a lined baking sheet, leaving a 2 inch space in between.
- Remove the chilled cookie dough topping from the fridge. Cut into 8 discs. Flatten the dough into round discs big enough to cover the bread dough balls. Lay the cookie dough topping on top of the dough balls. Use a sharp knife and score the cookie dough topping in a crisscross pattern.
- Let bread rise 30 minutes.
- While the bread is rising, prepare macerated berries. Mix together sliced strawberries with sugar and orange juice. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Prepare whipped cream. Whip together heavy cream with rosewater syrup and powdered sugar. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degree F.
- Bake bread for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cook on wire rack.
- Assemble short cake. Slice melon pan in half. Spoon macerated strawberries and whipped cream on the bottom half. Place top bread half on top. Serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Like all breads, this recipe can be a bit challenging. Not only do you have to prepare the dough, you have to make the strawberry cookie dough topping, macerated strawberries and whipped cream. Don’t worry, once you’re finished baking, you’ll be glad you took on the challenge!
First, prepare the dough for the melon pan. Activate the yeast by combining it with warm water and sugar. Once the mixture begins to foam, add both flours, salt, and dry milk powder. By using a combination of bread flour and cake flour, you will end up with a lighter, chewier bread.
Knead the dough until it starts to come together. Add the softened butter and continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area and let proof for one hour or until doubled in size.
While your dough is proofing, prepare the cookie dough topping. Cook the strawberries with sugar until they have broken down. You want the fruit to become almost a syrup. Let cool slightly before adding the remaining ingredients.
Since the cookie dough topping is very soft, you want to chill it for at least30 minutes before using. If you’re short on time, pop it in the freezer for half the time. In order to make your life easier, shape the dough topping into a log before chilling. That way, you can cut the dough into round discs with ease when ready to use.
To test if your dough is ready, poke it! The indentation of your finger should leave an imprint, signifying that the dough is ready.
Now comes the fun part! Shape the dough into 8 small balls, about 2.5 ounces each. Space them out on a lined baking sheet as they spread when they proof.
Take the chilled cookie dough out of the fridge and cut into 8 equal pieces.
This part can be a bit messy. Because our hands are so warm, it quickly softens the cookie dough topping, make it a little tricky to work with. I found that by placing the 8 discs of dough in between layers of plastic wrap, it makes it easier to handle. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on your counter. Place the 8 cut pieces of cookie dough topping on top. Lay another sheet of plastic wrap on top. Use your palms and flatten the discs wide enough to cover the portioned bread dough.
Now carefully lay the cookie dough topping on top of the portioned dough balls. Use a sharp knife and score lines in a crisscross pattern on top.
Let the dough rise another 30 minutes. While you’re waiting, prepare the macerated strawberries. Macerated strawberries just means you’re marinating the fresh berries with sugar and a little citrus (or grand marnier or even balsamic vinegar), allowing the fruit to release its natural juices. Let me tell you, this is one heavenly way to enjoy strawberries! Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Any longer and the berries will become too soft and mushy.
Prepare the rosewater whipped cream by whipping together heavy cream with powdered sugar and rosewater. A little rosewater goes a long way so go easy on the syrup!
Bake the melon pan for 10-12 minutes at 400 degree F. Remove from the oven and let cook on a wire rack.
Now the bread is good on its own but why not make it great by turning into a strawberry shortcake?
Once the bread is cooled, slice in half. Top the bottom half with macerated strawberries, rosewater whipped cream and the top bun. Finally, dig in!
Whew! That was a lot of work but I can happily sit here and dig into my strawberry shortcake melon pan because of it. The combination of sweet macerated strawberries with rosewater whipped cream on a melon pan is just too good. One thing I did notice was the moisture of the berries and whipped cream does make the bread more dense once assembled. However, it actually works in favor of the dessert since it’s able to better hold up to the berries and whipped cream. Will I make this recipe again? Definitely. Will it be soon? Perhaps sometime next year 🙂
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