Melon Pan - We Knead to Bake # 15

Melon Pan is a Japanese sweet bread. These soft spongy mildly sweetened buns have a crunchy cookie layer on the top and the two textures is what makes them really special and unique. 
I love how attractive they look and they were just as delicious.
The ingredient list and the method maybe long but the bread was really easy to make and it is totally worth the effort. And here's a link to a very helpful video of how this bread is made.

Thanks to Aparna for choosing this wonderful bread for the We Knead to Bake group

Melon Pan

For an eggless recipe just substitute the egg with 1 tbs yogurt or milk.
For the bread dough:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbs milk powder
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold water
1 egg, beaten 
1 tbs sugar
25 gms butter

For the cookie dough:
1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
a large pinch of salt
60 gms butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup castor sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
castor sugar/ granulated sugar for dusting

Bread Dough
Whisk together flour, powdered milk, yeast, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer or in any large bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg and cold water together with a fork until well blended. Add this to the flour mixture in the bowl.
Using the dough hook, knead on low speed until it all comes together as a dough and then on medium speed until you have a somewhat stiff dough. Add the sugar and again knead well.
Now add the butter and knead (first at slow speed and then on medium) until the butter is completely incorporated into the dough and the dough becomes smooth and elastic. The dough should be well-kneaded to develop the gluten.
Shape the dough into a round, and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let it rise until doubled (about an hour or so).
Cookie dough
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat till combined. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and add this to the bowl. Also add the lemon zest. Beat together  just until combined.
Shape the dough into a cylinder  and wrap tightly in cling film. Refrigerate the dough until required.
Bread dough
Once the dough has doubled in volume, take it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly grease your baking sheet or line it with parchment. Deflate the dough gently and divide it into 8 equal portions.
Shape each portion into a smooth ball. Work with one portion and keep the others covered so they don’t dry out.
Take the cold cookie dough and slice the cylinder into 8 equal portions. Use two pieces of plastic sheets or cling film to flatten the cookie dough. Place one slice/ round of cookie dough on a piece of plastic sheet/ cling film. Cover with another piece, and using a flat bottomed pan, press down on the dough to flatten it, until it is reasonably thin but not very much so.
Carefully take a ball of bread dough (it will have puffed up a little so don’t deflate it), and place the circle of cookie dough on top of it. Gently press the cookie dough edge to the bread dough ball so that it covers the top and sides of the ball, but leave the bottom open. Gently, holding the covered bread dough by the underside, press it into some sugar. Then using a the blunt side of a knife, mark the top of the cookie dough side of the bread roll with a diamond pattern. The pattern should be deep enough (otherwise it will disappear when the bread rises and bakes) without cutting through the cookie dough layer into the bread.
Place this on the greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat this with the remaining cookie dough and bread dough balls. Let them rise for an hour.
Bake them at 180C (350F) for about 25 minutes, until the tops of the Melon Pan just start turning brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
Melon Pan are best eaten the day they are made.