The absolute cutest Japanese melon bread shaped like adorable Baby Yoda. This sweet dessert is like a soft milk bun stuffed with decadent chocolate. The top is covered in a crisp cookie which makes this dessert delicious!
The cutest Japanese melon bread ever
Let's be honest, all Japanese treats and dishes in general are amazing! And I'm sure it's not just me who thinks so. Japanese cuisine is one of the most distinctive and precise culinary arts out there, with wonderful edible creations. Everything from savoury dishes to baked goods is just perfection to me, and I frequently take inspiration from Japanese dishes.
As a big fan of anime, especially Studio Ghibli, most of my cute creations are inspired by Japanese culture. And what's cuter than Baby Yoda?! These sweet milk buns are so soft, delicious and special that you will have problems stopping yourself from eating them.
This recipe is my interpretation of a traditional Japanese melon bread. Although I love taking inspiration from different cultures, I do not claim to be an expert in Japanese cuisine. There are amazing Japanese chefs and bakers out there incredible at their traditional recipes. I really like this video of a Japanese baker making traditional melon pan. Also check out this recipe here by Nami, a Japanese-American food blogger.
How to make Japanese melon bread
Japanese milk buns (melon bread) are composed of two parts: the actual bun and the crispy cookie on top.
The milk bun
Fluffy, light and delicious, the milk bun is like a sweet bread. This version also features a chocolate filling, making it the perfect treat to go with your afternoon tea.
What makes these buns extremely soft and delicious are the fat content and milk. The buns are made with full fat milk, as well as a decent amount of butter. When kneading the dough, you need to remember to properly incorporate the ingredients at each stage. Leaving enough time for proofing the breads is also crucial to ensure a good rise.
I like using my hands to incorporate the butter. This way you can feel the dough getting supple much easier than with a stand mixer.
The crispy cookie top
This is what makes the melon bread go from a normal sweet bun to an amazing treat. The crispy cookie top is so unusual, yet it works so well. It adds a different texture to the Japanese milk bun, and adds more sweetness.
Making the cookie top is simple, and follows the same process as most cookies:
- Cream softened butter with sugar
- Add egg and mix
- Combine with flour and baking powder
After making the cookie dough, we can divide it and colour it in green and black as per the recipe.
Assembling Japanese melon pan
Once the dough is ready, we can starts assembling the melon bread. The first step is to make the basic Japanese melon bread, without any decorations. If you're making plain melon bread, you can stop after this step.
- Flatten the piece of dough with your palm in the shape of a disc.
- Place one piece of chocolate in the middle. If using chocolate chips, place 1 tbsp.
- Wrap the dough around the piece of chocolate, pinching it with your fingers to seal. Roll the piece of dough in your hands to make it completely round.
- Roll out one piece of crisp cookie, then place it on top of the ball of dough. Press gently to make it stick to the dough.
Decorating Baby Yoda melon bread
To make the Japanese melon bread shaped into baby Yoda, we need to take a few more steps. Here is how to decorate the melon bread into the cutest creature ever!
- Ensure the crisp cookie top is wrapped snuggly around the dough.
- Use a round cookie cutter to cut out two eyes from the black cookie dough. Elongate the shape slightly with your fingers to make it more oblong. Place the eyes on top of the green cookie dough.
- Place more details from cookie dough such as the eyes and nose.
- Use a small knife or scalpel to carve out the forehead wrinkles in a criss cross pattern. Make two more slits on the side, where the ears will go.
Finally, cover the buns and let them proof in a warm place. In the meantime start making the ears from the leftover cookie dough. Roll the dough to 3-4mm thickness, then cut it out in the shape of obtuse triangles.
Bake the ear cookies for 7-8 minutes or until they look light golden-brown on the edge. Let them cool completely before attaching them to the sides, inside the slits we made on the buns. Be careful, as the cookies are fairly fragile.
Lastly, may the force be with you when you enjoy these Baby Yoda Japanese Milk Buns!
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Japanese melon bread (Baby Yoda melon pan)
- 200 g bread flour
- 50 g all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 30 g sugar
- 5 g instant dry yeast
- 1 egg, large
- 50 g milk, warm
- 50 g water, lukewarm
- 40 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 bar milk chocolate*
- 80 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 130 g sugar
- 1 egg, large
- 250 g all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1-2 drops green food colouring*
- 1-2 drops black food colouring
- First, we need to bloom the yeast. In a small bowl add the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast on top, mixing to dissolve. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Now need to combine the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the two different types of flour, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine well.
- Add the yeasty water, warm milk and egg. Combine with a spatula until the dough starts sticking together.
- Knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes until it becomes more supple and elastic. If using a stand mixer, mix until the dough detaches from the sides of the bowl.
- Once the dough feels more elastic, add the butter chopped up in the middle of the dough. Fold the dough over the butter and start kneading and stretching the dough to incorporate the butter. This can be done either by hand or in a stand mixer.
- Continue kneading and working the dough until it becomes very smooth and easy to work with. It will be stick, but please resist the temptation of adding extra flour.
- Once the dough feels smooth, bang it several times on the table. Try stretching a small piece of dough between your fingers to test the ‘windowpane effect’. If the dough becomes stretchy and see-through, it is ready. However, if the dough still feels brittle, keep kneading.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl. Cover with cling film and let proof for 2 hours in a warm place or until doubled in size.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Cream the butter at room temperature with the sugar in a large bowl until smooth.
- Add the egg and mix well with a spatula to combine. You can add ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract if desired.
- Separately, combine the flour with baking powder. Add the dry ingredients over the eggy mixture. Combine well with a spatula until a dough forms.
- Use your hands to bring the dough together and shape it into a ball.
- Take one 50g piece of cookie dough (about the size of a ping pong ball) and colour it black using food colour. Take one 10g piece (smaller than a coin) and leave it without colour. The rest of the dough will be coloured green, using green food colouring.
- Roll out the ping pong ball of green dough set aside to 3mm (⅛ inch) thickness. Cut out the Baby Yoda ears using a scalpel. The ears would be in the shape of an obtuse triangle. Bake for 7 minutes, then let the ears cool before using.
Assembling the Baby Yoda melon bread
- Once the milk bun dough has doubled in size, press it with your palms to deflate some of the air. Divide the dough into 10 pieces.
- Flatten one piece of bun dough in your palm into the shape of a disk.
- Add 2 squares of chocolate in the middle of the dough, then seal the edges around it. Shape into a round ball between your palms.
- Take one of the green balls of cookie dough and roll it out to 2-3mm (⅛ inch) thickness. Wrap it over the dough filled with chocolate and press down the edges to flatten them.
- Roll out the black cookie dough and cut out 2 small circles (roughly 2cm or 1-inch diameter). Attach them on top of the green cookie to form the eyes of Baby Yoda.
- Take a small piece of green cookie dough and place as the nose. Two small pieces of white dough will be attached on the outer sides of the black circles, to form the sparkle in the eye (please refer to process pictures).
- Lastly, score a hatch pattern on Baby Yoda’s forehead to form the wrinkles. Cut two slits on each side where the ears will go.
- Japanese milk buns with some cling film and let them proof in a warm place for 45 minutes. Bake for 13-14 minutes.
- Let the milk buns cool down on a wire rack, then carefully attach the cookie ears. Enjoy whilst still warm!
- I recommend using a kitchen scale in grams for more accuracy. The cups used for the conversion are standard US customary cups (1 cup flour = 136g). There are many different types of cups across the globe, which is why I strongly recommend using grams instead.
- Chocolate - is optional, and traditionally these milk buns do not have any fillings. I like to use milk chocolate.
- Food colouring - I recommend using gel or powder food colouring. Alternatively, green food colouring can be replaced with matcha powder.
- Storing - store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The melon bread can also be frozen. Cover in plastic wrap, then add to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.