Category Archives: Breakfast, brunch and tea time

Melon Pan

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I made melon pan 3 weeks ago, (when I was seriously craving it) and at the time I remembered clearly what my reason for wanting to eat it so badly was, where the idea had come from; I meant to write this post then, but I didn’t. So, of course, when I finally managed to sit down and write, the reason behind this recipe had disappeared.

A bit like dreams, ideas that are not written down just tend to vanish. Maybe they go to the realm where all ideas come from. Maybe they don’t leave, maybe we lose the ability to connect or see them. Also, are ideas made out of the same stuff as dreams, and if so, do they all disappear together to the same spot?  Is there, perhaps, a wonderful land where unused ideas and forgotten dreams live together? Is that the place where poets go to get inspired?

Who knows… but in any case, melon pan was baked and so this post is now being written, just in case I forget about the post altogether 🙂

If you don’t know what melon pan is, let me say first that it doesn’t involve baking with melon in any way, it is called “melon” bread because its shape resembles a type of melon. It is a sweet bun from Japan (but it can be found with different names in Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Asian countries), and its made by wrapping a small ball of enriched dough in a cookie dough. The bread is soft and tender and the cookie forms a crunchy crust on top. Sounds good, right?

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Ingredients (for 10 breads):

Cookie dough:

60 gs. unsalted butter at room temperature

100 gs granulated sugar

1 large egg beaten

200 gs cake flour (If you don’t have cake flour, make it by mixing plain flour with cornstarch. 1 cup and 2 tbsp plain flour + 2 tbsp cornstarch makes 1 CUP cake flour)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

Enriched dough:

225 gs bread flour

25 gs cake flour

40 g. granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

1 large egg

50 ml whole milk

50 ml water

35 g unsalted butter cut into small cubes and at room temperature.

1 teaspoon instant dry yeast.

Method:

To me, the easier order was: Make cookie dough, place it in fridge, while it chills, move on with making the enriched dough. While the enriched dough rises work with the cookie dough again. However, you can equally start by making the enriched dough and while it proofs move on to making the cookie dough. It is up to you!

Cookie dough:

1.- In a bowl place the 60 gs of butter and mix with a spatula until it becomes creamy then add 100 gs sugar and mix until the sugar is completely incorporated.

2.- Add the egg a bit at a time, until you incorporate the whole egg.  The mixture will look like this:

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3.- Now, sift 200 gs of cake flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder into the mixture and using the spatula mix everything together until you have a dough. Do not overwork it, you do not need to knead it to much, just bring everything together into a ball.

4.- Wrap the dough in cling film and shape it like a log, so that it will be easier to cut it into 10 pieces later on. Place in the fridge until needed.

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Enriched dough:

1.-  In a bowl place 225 g  bread flour, 25 g cake flour, 40 g granulated sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Mix with a spatula.

2.- Make a well in the middle and add 1 tsp instant dry yeast, 1 beaten egg, 50 ml warm milk and 50 ml warm water. Gently mix all these wet ingredients together with a spatula and then start adding the flour from the sides of the well until there is nothing left and you have a workable dough.

3.- Knead the dough in a floured surface for 10 minutes, or until you have a soft dough that doesn’t stick to your fingers.

4.- Press and stretch the dough about 20 cm, and place the remaining 35 g of butter, cut into cubes, on top of the dough. Roll up the dough tucking the butter in, and then continue the kneading process. The dough will get a bit messy, but don’t worry too much, just keep kneading, soon all the butter will be assimilated by the dough and it will stop looking like a greasy mess.

5.- At this point you can start doing some therapeutic kneading ( I call it therapeutic, but I doubt that’s the name the professionals are taught at Baking School) by banging the dough onto the work surface and then folding it over away from you. This helps develop gluten (elasticity). Bang the dough, turn it 90 degrees, and punch it, using the lower part of your palm. Repeat. Do this until your dough is smooth and soft, and it has stopped sticking to your hands and/or being greasy.

6.- Place the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film or a plastic bag and let it rest until it has doubled in size. This usually takes 1 hour, but if the weather is hot, it might take 30-40 minutes.

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While the dough proofs and grows and becomes beautiful:

1.- Take the cookie dough out of the fridge and weight it. It should be somewhere around the 400 gs. You need the exact weight so that you can cut the log into 10 pieces of the same weight. Cut them and then weight them to make sure they are all the same.

2.- Make balls with the palms of your hands and place them in a tray, cover with cling film and let them rest in the fridge until needed.

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Onto the bread dough:

1.-  Once the dough has doubled in size, dust your index finger with flour and put it in the centre of the dough, making a hole. If the hole doesn’t close back when you remove your finger, then the dough is ready for the next step.

2.- Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Press the dough with your hands to deflate.

3.- Knead the dough for a few minutes and then shape into a ball. Weight the dough (it should be approximately 460 gs).

4.- Divide the dough into 10 balls of the same size. Use a scale to make sure that they are all the same. They should be 1/10 of the total weight of the dough.

5.- Place the dough balls in a tray lined with baking paper and let them rest for 20 minutes, covered.

6.- After 20 minutes, remove the cookie dough from the fridge. Cut a square of cling film to help you with the next step (the less you touch the cookie dough with your hands the better).

7.- Place a cookie dough ball on the cling film and with a small rolling pin (or even a glass) flatten the ball like this:

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8.-  Hold the flattened dough in the palm of your hand (cling film included) and place a bread dough ball inside. Then gently close the cookie dough around the bread dough, you will soon realise that the cling film is really helpful in this step:

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9.- Now, take that ball and dip it in a bowl with granulated sugar:

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10.- Then using a dough scraper or knife, gently score the biscuit dough into a crisscross pattern ( 3-4 lines on each side should suffice). Repeat with the remaining dough. Then place in a tray lined with baking paper.

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11.- Cover the melon pan so they don’t dry and let them rise for 30 minutes.

12.- Preheat the oven at 180 degrees and cook for 15-20 minutes. Mine cooked in 20 minutes, but the recipe I was following said 15, so keep an eye on them. To make sure they are baked you can pierce them with a skewer, if it comes out clean, they are ready. They do bake really fast for a bread!

I know this recipe is a bit long, but the melon pan that result from it are delicious! They are lovely warm or cold. We even had them the next they and the bread inside was still soft and moist. They can be reheated in the oven too! and they are nicer warm, I think.

I had melon pan- flavoured sugar, so that added an extra nice taste. If you’d like your melon pan flavoured, why not try adding cocoa powder or matcha (both flavours I’ve seen in bakeries in Asia) or just vanilla essence or even orange peel… the sky is the limit really if you are not too precious about sticking to the original recipe. Hope you try this recipe and enjoy it!!

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Time to bake Mince Pies!

DSC083152015 has been quite a hectic year and with 2016 fast approaching, I decided to drag at least one recipe from oblivion and re-post it here, this is more as a way to feel that I did, indeed, do something about the blog before the year’s end, that because I’m desperate to write today.

I think the best thing about these mince pies is the pastry, you can use the same mix to make really, really delicious apple pies (I highly recommend them). 
DSC08318I love to keep things traditional during Christmas, at home we eat Pan Dulce (an Argentine cousin of Italian Pannetone), and even though everyone seems to be falling for it, I refuse to buy those chocolate chips pan dulces that are popping everywhere. Chocolate chip? On my  pannetone? I don’t think so! So, yes, I understand the importance of keeping the flavours we grew up with during the holiday season.

But I’m not against a teeny-weeny tweak here and there, you can call this coconut oil pastry a teeny-weeny tweak.

 So, without further ado, Christmas is almost on top of us after all, here is the recipe.

Ingredients (makes 12 pies approx.):

100g coconut oil

300g plain flour

2 egg yolks

50ml cold water

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 jar of mincemeat.

How to:

1.- In a bowl place the flour and the salt. Mix together and then add the coconut oil.

DSC082382.- With your fingers rub the coconut oil into the flour mixture until it resembles bread crumbs.

DSC08240Coconut oil isn’t as pliable as butter, so it is harder to rub it into the flour. The little lumps of oil are tougher than their butter equivalents; but be patient, it can be done.

I haven’t tried using a blender. You can try it though, and if it works, then making these pies will be a breeze.

3.- Make a well in the centre, add the egg yolks, vanilla essence and the water.

DSC082414.- Mix everything by hand until you have a dough that comes off the sides of the bowl. Don’t overwork the dough or it will make a tough pastry. Just mix enough for the wet ingredients to permeate the dry ones and then press everything together to form a ball.

DSC082535.-Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 1 hour, ideally for 2.

6.- After 1-2 hours, take the dough out of the fridge. You can then lightly flour a surface  and roll out your dough; or you can spread a rectangle of cling film on your working top, place the dough on it, and then cover loosely with another cling film sheet and roll out the pastry through the cling film; that way, the dough doesn’t stick to the rolling-pin and you avoid using too much flour, which will also make your pastry tough. Roll out to a 3mm thickness.

DSC082677.- Cut circles of 4-5 cm diameter, depending on the size you want your mince pies to be. Try not to make them too big that they are difficult to eat, or too small, because they won’t take enough filling.

8.- Spread 1 -2 teaspoons of filling into one of the circles, then paint around the edges with a bit of water or egg white so that the top of the pie will stick to the bottom. Take a second circle,  prick it with a fork and place on top of the filling.

DSC082699.- Use a fork to press the edges together and seal the tarts….
DSC0827110.- Continue with the rest of the pastry.

DSC0827711.- Place in the fridge for 30 mins and then bake or freeze them wrapped in cling film.

12.- To bake them: Preheated your oven at 200 C. Place the pies on a baking tray covered with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

DSC0830513.- You can prepare a simple glaze with 1/2 cup of icing sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice to cover them once they are cold. If you want your icing to be super white, like in the photos, the add 1 teaspoon of egg whites to your icing sugar/lemon mix and whisk everything together until soft and fluffy.

DSC08316Merry Christmas!!

Paula