There’s been a little debate brewing in the comment fields as to the difference between Japanese melon pan and Mexican concha (“seashell”) bread. The Pastry family happened to be out dining on Mexican food this past Saturday and we passed a Mexican bakery. I went in and snapped this close-up photo:
Having finally made melon pan, I can say that the concept behind the two is virtually the same: a fluffy roll covered in a cookie dough that’s scored for decoration. My take on the difference is that the Japanese version has a higher cookie-to-bread ratio and is somewhat sweeter. Melon pan is also quite a bit smaller. Given that both Mexico and Japan have had exposure to the southern European baking tradition, I suspect that both breads have a common ancestor, but I can’t find it. If anyone is aware of Portuguese, Spanish or French bread that’s made in this way please get in touch, because I’m stumped.