Recipe - Turtle-Shaped Melon Pan

I have great respect for those who can turn out delicious baked goods that look amazing. Because of a recent suggestion from a friend on Facebook, I decided to search for turtle-shaped desserts and came across a recipe for turtle-shaped melon pan. For those of you who don't know what it is, it's a Japanese baked good ("pan" stands for bread) that is crosshatched and shaped to resemble melon. The top is sugary and the bottom, lightly sweetened bread. The blogger for Diamonds for Dessert posted her brilliant adjustment to a recipe for melon pan and creatively made turtles out of the delicious bakery product. The recipe listed below is from her blog.

Please note that this was the first time I've ever made bread. I made some mistakes with the turtle pan, as I call it now, but will be noting how not to make the same mistakes I did in my instructions below. As you can see, my turtles are not as beautiful as the ones in the original blogger's pictures but they were still tasty! One major thing to note is that you ought to make this when it is fairly warm out so you can properly have your dough rise.

Step 1: Ingredients (serving size: 9 turtles)

Turtle body

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsps active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsps sugar

Turtle shell
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp flour

Used by both
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg

Step 2: Making the starter
Making bread requires you to do a starter. I visited a bakery once and learned about how the same starter can be used for years because yeast reproduces. It's a neat concept. For this purpose, however, I just made enough starter as needed. Heat up the water to about 110 degrees Fahreinheit which is hot but not too hot to touch. Mix that in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of your sugar and then the yeast. Let it proof for approximately 10 minutes (it'll bubble).

Step 3: Making the dough
In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining tablespoon of sugar with salt and 1 1/2 cups of flour. Crack your egg into a small bowl and mix together. Create a well in the large bowl and pour only HALF of the egg inside. At this point, the yeast should be ready so pour it into the well too. Mix slowly until you make dough - if too wet, add a little bit of flour at a time until it no longer sticks.

Step 4: Kneading the dough
Place your dough somewhere where you can knead it. I used a cutting board with some flour on the surface in case the dough would stick. Use 1/3 of the butter you have to slowly mix into the dough. Once it is smooth and has had the butter mixed in, roll it into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour. It must be in a warm draft-free area (by warm, somewhere between 70-85 degress Fahreinheit). I made the mistake of making the dough quite late so I tried to use an alternative method of making the dough rise and accidentally pre-baked the dough. Don't make that mistake!

Step 5: Creating the shell

While you are waiting for your dough to rise, you can make the shell which is basically a sugar cookie. Cream together the egg, remaining butter, and 1/4 cup of sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder together before combining wet and dry ingredients. Put this cookie dough into some plastic wrap and shape into a rectangular cylinder (think "marshmallow"); place in the refrigerator.

Step 6: Forming the turtle body

Check on your bread dough - it should have doubled in size after an hour. To test, push two fingers down the center; if the dent remains, your dough is ready. Punch the center and fold the edges into it to knead a little bit more. Then, divide the dough into 9 pieces, making sure to keep them all covered until used. You will need baking sheets to arrange your turtles. Break off about 1/3 of a dough ball and divide it in half. One small half will be the head; divide the other half into five pieces for the legs and tail. Remember to pinch one piece to look like a tail. Lay 2/3 of the original dough ball down as the body making sure to cover a little bit of the appendages so they'll bake together. You have your cute turtle! Make all of them and let sit for about half an hour to rise.

Step 7: Forming the shell
Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees Fahreinheit. While the bodies are rising, take the sugar cookie dough out of the fridge. Cut into 9 equal slices and shape to appropriately cover the turtles' bodies. The author of the recipe noted using a rolling pin but I just used my hands. With a knife, score a checkerboard-like design on the shells that don't cut all the way through the dough lest they crack upon baking. Carefully place these shells on top of the bodies without deflating the rising dough. Sprinkle sugar over the tops just as you would with sugar cookies.

Step 8: Finishing
Put your baking sheets into the oven for 20 minutes or until the bread is done. You'll know when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow! I slightly burned mine because I had accidentally pre-baked the bread a little as aforementioned. I also didn't make the legs big enough so some got lost under the shells which weren't scored as well as they could have been. Overall, however, it was a great first shot at making bread of any sort and particularly turtle-shaped melon pan!




  2. those look good!! i'd put in some raisin eyes. :)

  3. I'm thinking of either dyeing the bodies green next time or making the shells different colors like Koopas :]