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June 22, 2007

Iron Chef series: Watermelon bread and juice

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Welcome to another exciting Iron Chef series! In this installment, I'm featuring a refreshing drink common in Asian countries - watermelon juice - and a hybrid bread originated from Japan - melonpan!

I was shopping in Walmart with Maylin one day and we came across $5 watermelons piled up in the fruits section. We thought that since summer is going to be very hot, some watermelon can be an ideal dessert after dinner. Though it's not very cheap if you convert back to RM, the size of the melon is humongous. We had quite enough of it after eating a quarter.

So we thought of making watermelon juice. It's traditionally known that salt sprinkled watermelon tastes better because salt draws water out from the melon, thus making it juicier (we know that sodium cations and chloride anions bond with the partially charged H2O), but after a daring experiment I found out that maple syrup has a similar, if not better, effect. The sweet woody taste of maple syrup complements well with the refreshing taste of watermelon juice. (Maybe this is my personal opinion, but do try out my recipe and decide it on your own!)

After squeezing out the juice, we're left with a bowlful of watermelon pulp. What is seen as dump I imagine as a special commodity by applying a tweak. I had a perfect picture in my mind. I told the Waldron household that I plan to use the pulp to make scrumptious watermelon bread. The idea originated from reading a manga called "Yakitate Japan" (a must read), in which the protagonist has to make melonpan (a kind of Japanese honeydew melon bread).

In this case, I substituted honeydew melon with watermelon. The result is... not so successful, coz there's not much watermelon flavor in the bread. But it's still a decent hybrid bread that's soft in the inside and crispy on the outside.

Click below for the recipe :)

Watermelon juice:

20 oz. freshly squeezed watermelon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs maple syrup
1/2 tbs sugarcane sugar

Combine everything and stir until homogeneous. Serve chilled.


Watermelon bread (good for 24 medium sized buns):

1 packet of yeast
60ml water
1/4 tsp sugar

1. Heat water in microwave oven to 37-42 degrees C.

2. Dissolve sugar and then add yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes.

500g flour
1/2 tbs salt
1 tbs + 1 tsp + 1/4 tsp sugar
3 tbs butter
200ml water

3. Mix the above ingredients and add the activated yeast solution into the mixture. Add some more flour and knead until less sticky.

4. Scatter some flour onto a flat table and knead the bread dough on it for about 20 minutes. If you have solar hands you can speed things up :P (read Yakitate Japan and you'll understand).

5. Oil the surface of a bowl and put the dough in it. Cover with a pan or something high enough to give it some space to expand. Leave it in room temperature for 2 hours.

300g flour
1 pinch baking powder
5 tbs butter
10 tbs sugar
1 egg
5 tbs watermelon pulp (not too watery)

6. While the bread dough is expanding, mix above ingredients and keep it aside.

7. Take out the bread dough, punch it down and knead lightly. Then separate the bread dough into 24 equal pieces and put them on a cookie tray. Let 2nd rise for 15 minutes.

8. Cover the top of the bread dough with the mixture done in no. 6. Bake at 190 degrees C for 15 minutes. After that, switch to broil function for 1 minute to give the top surface of the bread a brownish, crispy layer.

9. Serve with watermelon juice.

(The recipe for watermelon bread is modified from Melon Pan Recipe)

Note: If you still have not read Yakitate Japan, you might not know that there's a flaw in the bread design... the answer will be revealed in the next installment of Iron Chef series!

Posted by peixin at June 22, 2007 05:35 PM

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