Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter Bunny Bread

I have a sad history of making demented looking creations at Easter time. For instance, take these bunny shaped eclairs with lime curd filling I made a few years ago.

Or these lamb cookies. Lambs were the intention but they ended up looking like demented goats.

In the spirit of consistency, I now bring you slightly demented looking Easter bunny bread.

In Germany, beautifully decorated bread abound in bakeries during holidays. Easter brings lots of bunny and basket shaped bread in addition to the many other varieties of Osterkranz populating local bakery shelves.

This is a fairly simple white bread recipe. I added some lemon zest to the dough to give it some brightness. To get the shapes I used a couple of different cookie cutters and then pinched the pieces together before baking.

Royal icing, easter candies, nonpareils and some store bought sugar flowers left over from making Easter Bonnet French Macarons were used to decorate the bread, once they were completely cooled.  I used black and white fondant to create the (crazy) eyes.

Easter Bunny Bread
Prep Time: 30 minutes 
Dough Rise Time: 45 minutes 
Bake Time: 15 minutes
Yield: Six 8" Bread Bunnies


For the Bread:
  • 5 cups bread flour 
  • Two 7 gram packages of dry yeast 
  • 1 cup lukewarm whole milk 
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest 
  • 1 large egg yolk 
For the Decoration:
For the icing: You can use store-bought assorted color decoration icing in tubes or make and color your own Royal icing (see recipe below)
Sugar flowers, bows, almonds, jelly beans, assorted Easter candy of your choice. I used black and white color fondant to create the eyes.

Royal Icing:
  • 2 tablespoons Meringue powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2+1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted 
  • Food coloring 
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  • Sift the bread flour into a large bowl. Use your hand or a large wooden spoon to make a well in the middle of the flour. Set aside. 
  • In a separate bowl, add the dry yeast to the lukewarm milk. when the yeast has dissolved, add it to the well in the sifted bread flour and knead together. 
  • Cover the bowl and set aside in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 15 minutes. 
  • Melt the unsalted butter in a small bowl. Mix in the two large eggs, a pinch of salt and white granulated sugar. 
  • Add this butter mixture to the flour yeast dough and knead everything together until it again forms a smooth dough. Alternately, place all the ingredients in a stand mixer and use the dough hook attachment to knead the dough together. 
  • Re-cover the bowl and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes. 
To shape the Easter bunny bread, there are a few methods you can use. The first way is to cut out an Easter bunny template from strong cardboard. Place the cardboard bunny shape on top of the rolled out dough and use a sharp paring knife to cut around the cardboard. 

Second: If you have good hand-eye coordination, use a sharp paring knife to free cut the bunny shapes out of the dough. If you use the first two methods, you can leave the shape plain or cut out additional shapes to embellish the bread for the bow ties and the feet.

Third: The method I found best was using the following cookie cutters to shape the bread: a large bunny head, a large egg-shaped cutter for the body and small round cutters for the feet.

I assembled the bunny parts together on the lined baking sheet pinched all the pieces together before baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 410 degrees F.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for one or two minutes more. 
  • Roll out the dough to about a 1/2 inch thick and use the method of your choice to cut out bunny shapes from the dough. 
  • Place the shapes on the parchment lined baking sheets, brush with the beaten egg yolk and bake for 10 -15 minutes. 
  • Remove from the oven, let cool completely before decorating.
Make the royal icing:
  • Place the meringue powder and water in a stand mixer. Beat together until foamy. 
  • Add the powdered sugar and beat on a high speed until a smooth, stiff meringue-like frosting. 
  • Divide up the icing and mix in the food coloring to tint the frosting your colors of choice. If you want pastel colors, start with mixing in one or two drops and add more according to how saturated you want the color to be. 
  • Load each color into pastry bags fitted with #2 or #3 tips and decorate the bread 
Important! The bread must be completely cool to the touch before you cover with royal icing or it will melt all over the bread.

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