It hasn’t made its way to the same level of international culinary stardom as sushi and ramen, but I don’t think I’ve ever introduced a foreign visitor to Japan to melon bread who didn’t fall in love with it. Despite containing no actual melon (the name is thought to come from the pattern scored into the bread’s upper crust), the Japanese bakery mainstay is a definite winner thanks to its sugar-dusted, crisp outer layer. Melon bread delivers just enough flavor and crunch to satisfy your craving for something sweet and stimulating, while at the same time hiding its one undeniable weakness.
The center is just plain white bread.
Bakery Yamazaki Pan seems to have accepted the treat’s shortcoming, and has responded in a temptingly logical way: selling bags of just the crust.
While purists and traditionalists are happy with ordinary melon bread, the backlash against the orthodox center has been building for some time. In recent years, more and more bakeries have been filling their melon bread with custard, and in one case, ice cream, to stimulate taste buds all the way to the center.
▼ Plain melon bread
Yamazaki Pan has taken the opposite tack, and instead of adding something to the inner layer, has simply decided to take it away altogether.
ミキボン (@mikibon123) October 20, 2014
た か ぎ し ゅ ○マルバツ○ (@Rickenapple) October 15, 2014
The minimalist snack actually gets a pretty lengthy name, as it’s officially called Melon Pan no Kawa Yaichaimashita, or, “We Baked Melon Bread Crust.” A bit of a clunky name, sure, but you can’t argue with its accuracy, since that’s exactly what you’ll find inside the wrapper.
No changes seem to have been made to the recipe itself, as the crust retains the rich sweetness of Yamazaki Pan’s regular melon bread. There’s no need to worry about landfills becoming stuffed with melon bread bottoms, either. Rather than slice the tops off of full-sized versions, the “crusts” are actually extra-thin pieces of melon bread, as you can see by looking at their baked undersides.
Aside from allowing them to bypass the least flavorful part of the snack, some excited baked goods fans have pointed out that Yamazaki Pan’s Melon Pan no Kawa Yaichaimashita has just 245 calories, roughly half of what you’ll find in normal melon bread, and the calorie reduction is even bigger if you’re comparing it to cream-filled versions. Of course, it’s also only about half as big, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some people plow through two packs in a sitting, but hey, if you’re going to consume 500-odd calories of melon bread anyway, they may as well all come from your favorite part.