Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Japanese Melon Pan | We Knead to Bake # 15

Melon Pan , or Melon bun is a sweet bun popular in Japan and other places like Taiwan, China and Latin America. These buns are not made of melons of any type.Instead it is a yeast bread dough covered with a thin layer of cookie dough scored in a cross hatch or diamond pattern and baked through. The appearance of the bread resembles a cantaloupe or rock melon and hence the name. 

This time we were given Melon Pan for We Knead to Bake challenge #15 by Aparna. It turned out perfectly- the recipe though involved two dough was good and as usual I replaced my egg with Ener G egg replacer. The bun turned out just sweet -can be sweeter - and ofcourse there are several variations you can try with the given recipe as well.

Ingredients:

Bread Dough:
All Purpose Flour: 1 3/4 cup + more for dusting as needed
Instant Yeast: 1 tsp
Milk Powder: 2 tbsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp

Egg: 1 beaten OR Ener G Egg :1.5 pkd tsp of Ener G + 3 tbsp of water whisked together
Ice cold water: 1/3 cup

Sugar:1 tbsp
Unsalted Soft Butter: 2 tbsp of 25 gm


Cookie Dough:

Unsalted Soft Butter: 60 gm  or 4 tbsp and almost 1 tsp
Castor Sugar: heaped 5 tbsp or 1/3 cup

Egg: 1 beaten or Ener G Egg: 1.5 pkd tsp of Ener G + 4 tbsp of water whisked together
Vanilla extract: 1/2 tsp

All Purpose Flour: 1 1/3 cups
Baking Powder: 3/4 tsp
Salt: a large pinch

Lemon zest: 1 tsp +

Others:
Chocochips: optional (as a layer between bread and cookie doughs)
Castor/ Powdered sugar: for topping

Preparation:

Bread Dough: 
In a big bowl, mix together flour, yeast, milk powder and salt. Beat together egg and cold water and add to the flour mix. Knead well until a dough forms and add in sugar and continue kneading. Add in the butter and knead more to get a smooth soft and elastic dough. 

The more you knead the more the gluten will develop. Roll the dough as a round ball and keep it covered in a greased bowl with wrap , turning once to coat it with oil. Let it sit and rise for about an hour until it doubles in volume.

Cookie dough: 
While the bread dough is rising prepare the cookie dough. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and beat in the egg and vanilla. Add in the mix of flour,salt.lemon zest  and baking powder and whisk at low speed until just combined. Transfer the sandy mass to a plastic wrap and with hands shape into a cylinder. Cover and chill the dough until it is needed.

Melon Pan:
Once the bread dough is doubled in volume, transfer it to a floured counter, deflate it gently and divide into 8 or 10 equal portions. Shape each piece into a round similar to bread rolls. Work with one piece and keep the others covered while doing so to prevent them from drying.

Take out the cookie dough and gently divide it into equal number of pieces as the bread pieces. Take a cookie piece and within two plastic sheets press it into a slightly thin circle.Carefully take a puffed up piece of bread dough and place the pressed out cookie circle on top of it. Cover the bread dough with the cookie circle on all the sides and top leaving the bottom open. 

Hold this piece on the bottom and roll it on sugar to get the top coated with sugar. Then with a sharp knife or similar object ,make a cross hatch or diamond pattern on the cookie dough part making sure the bread dough remains as such. The marks should be deep enough to remain so after baking else they disappear once the bread rises and is baked.

Repeat the process with all the pieces and place the melon pan onto a greased or lined baking sheet and let them rise for another hour or so.

Bake the melonpan in a preheated oven at 350F/180 c for about 25 minutes until the tops just start browning. Take these out and transfer onto wireracks where they can cool till consumption. 

These are preferably served warm and they taste better on the day they are made.


They are perfect with tea or just as an snack and you can make your own variations . The bread dough has no sugar and the sugar is just enough in the cookie crust . So the sugar can be increased by adding another separate layer of chocochips between the cookie and bread layers or in the bread dough as well.

Lets take a look how others fared the melonpan challenge at Aparna.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Maska Chaska Saltine Crackers | Baking Partners # 21

When I was a kid, somehow I hated salt biscuits. I was not a big biscuit kid, but still I would prefer the sweet ones than the crisp ,round salt biscuits. I still remember the ads for these topped with cheese, tomatoes etc.  I liked the ads and the concept of topping but never got to make it. Later on, somehow I started liking it and now enjoy the spiced version of these. 

When this months Baking Partners challenge came, we were given two options. One was the graham crackers and the other was the saltine or soda crackers. I had already made pumpkiny graham crackers and decided on the soda/saltine crackers with a little Indian style spice twist to get my own version of popular Maska Chaska biscuits.

The recipes were chosen by Arthy Sharma and the saltine crackers are adapted from Kingarthurflour site.

Ingredients:

All Purpose Flour: 3/4 cup
Instant Yeast: 1 tsp 
Baking Soda : 1/8 tsp
Cream of Tartar: 1/8 tsp (can be replaced by 2-3 drops of vinegar)
Salt: 1/8 tsp
Sugar: 1/4 tsp

Water: 4 tbsp 
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Unsalted Butter: 1 tbsp

Topping:
black salt + dry mint: around 1 tbsp or as per taste
Sea/ Table salt : for sprinkling

Preparation:

Mix together the dry ingredients of flour, yeast,salt, soda, sugar and cream of tartar.

In a small bowl, heat butter, oil and 3 tbsp of water till butter melts. Remove and keep aside and let it come to room temperature.

Add the liquid to the dry mix and optionally adding remaining 1 tbsp of water knead to get a soft,sticky dough.I added barely 2 tsp of additional water apart from the 3 tbsp and got a slightly sticky dough only.

Transfer the dough to a greased vessel, cover with a cling wrap and refrigerate it overnight. The dough will rise but not double in volume. 

Once you are ready to bake, take the dough out of fridge and let it thaw till it reaches room temperature or atleast 15-20 mnts.

Heavily flour the counter or work surface and pat the dough rough roughly into a 3" x 5" rectangle. This will make rolling out easier.Roll out the dough into a 9"x10 " rectangle. 

Now fold the dough like a letter. Starting from the shorter side, fold it in three. Turn the folded rectangle to 90 degrees and start rolling out to get an approximate 10" x 18" rectangle or a very thin sheet. The sheet will shrink a bit once you stop rolling it out.

Psst.. My rolled out sheet would definitely pass the window pane test. It was so thin and transparent.

Anyways, the folds were made so that the biscuit looks flaky with layers inside. This is exactly how the commercial crackers or salty biscuits look like. 

Spread the topping of your choice uniformly across the sheet. Press this in gently with the rolling pin and using a pizza cutter cut the dough into 2" squares. transfer these gently to a lined/greased baking sheet and prick the pieces once or twice with the tines of a fork. Bake for 8-10 minutes in a preheated oven at 200C.

Keep and eye once the edges start browning as they brown very fast. Once done then switch off the oven and leave the oven door completely open with the baking sheet inside so that they crisp up while cooling.

Once completely cool transfer and store in airtight containers.


Yummy crackers. They were similar in taste with maska chaska and are easy to make except for the overnight rising time. My daughter definitely enjoyed it. Lets see who made what this challenge at Swathi's.



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