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Bento Recipes: Melon pan


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Umai!Melon pan is basically a roll covered with a thin cookielike shell. It's called melon pan not because of flavor or ingredients, but because it supposedly resembles a melon. Now, the recipe I've posted here is completely inauthentic, because I have not yet found a Japanese recipe I could follow without headaches, so instead I backwards engineered it. However, it's very close to the melon pan I've bought at Asian markets, the main difference being the density of the roll. (Mine are much lighter.)

What you need:

    cafeteria roll dough
    room temperature sugar cookie dough (I use the stuff you buy in a stick)
    a greased cookie sheet

Make the cafeteria roll dough. After you knead in the sugar and butter, take little gobs of it and knead them into firm balls a little larger than a jumbo egg. Take a tablespoon or so of the sugar cookie dough, flatten it into a pancake as well as you can, and put it on top of the ball.  Press it down and spread it to cover as much of the ball as you can; it's OK if the bottom is bare. Add more cookie dough if needed. Pat the cookie coating down, then flatten the ball into a bun shape. Place it on the cookie sheet.  Some people score them with in a loose grid pattern, about four lines by four lines.

Let them rise for 45 minutes at room temperature. They should double in size. 20 minutes into the rise preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. When fully risen - and the cookie shell may be cracking by this time, which is fine - bake the bread for 12 minutes. Take out when golden brown, and resist the urge to devour them all before they cool.

One variation I've tried and enjoyed ("enjoyed" is too mild a word for it, actually) is chocolate chip cookie dough in place of sugar cookie dough. It's completely inauthentic, but in the name of deliciosity I will take liberties now and again!