Santa Bread

I’ll admit it, I’m a recovering Pinterest addict. My sister’s friends clued me into the creative board site about six months ago, and once I dared to sign up and begin navigating the site, I was completely hooked. Since my initial Pinterest plunge, I have begun easing up on my time spent there, as one can easily waste invest an hour or more “pinning” (ask any Pinterest member, I think they’ll agree with me). And while it’s true that I’m currently not working, I still can’t completely justify hours worth of mind envy as I peruse picture after picture of glamorous outfits, room decor, make-up inspirations and culinary artwork (each visit reminds me once again that all my clothes are at least two years old and our living room looks like a barren ecru wasteland! Ha!). However, one extremely useful component of Pinterest is recipe finding! I have discovered tons of great cooking blogs and recipe links through Pinterest. What is more, if I find a recipe I want to try on a random site, I can then “pin” that link to my Pinterest board so that I don’t have to go scouring the interwebs once I’m ready to try it out. Genius!

As I was perusing Pinterest before the holidays I stumbled upon this great recipe for a Santa-shaped bread. And although I’m a bread amateur and have had only mild success with bread baking to date (I’m looking at you insanely yeasty, hockey-puck-like bagels), my Christmas spirit overcame my culinary fears and I decided to give it a try. To my delight (and that of my friends/unsuspecting guinea pigs) this bread not only looked awesome but it also tasted great! I only had whole wheat bread flour so my Santa looked like he had just come from Key West, but it still tasted delicious! Next time I plan to add a bit of vital wheat gluten to make the whole wheat concoction even lighter, but it was still great without it. The original recipe site has step-by-step pictures of how to form the Santa, so be sure to reference it while assembling your Santa! And yes, I realize this is about a month too late, but once you get on Pinterest, you can simply pin my blog link and have it ready for next year!

Impress your friends with this holiday treat. Heck, impress yourself!

Ease of Preparation: Medium (time consuming, but I promise the “Santa forming” is pretty easy!)

Click here for original recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 packages (2 1/4 tsp or 1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast; if you have instant dry yeast as I do, use appx. 3 1/3 tsp total (rule of thumb, use 25% less when subbing instant yeast for active dry yeast)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 raisins or dried blueberries
  • 2 egg yolks, separated (for egg wash)
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Once heated, turn off.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water and butter to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients in standing mixer bowl w/ paddle attachment; beat just until moistened. Beat in the eggs until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough (I used about 4 1/4 cups total).

Switch to mixer’s kneading attachment and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in the warm oven until doubled, about 1 1/2 – 2hours. Punch dough down.

SANTA ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS (click here for photo how-to):

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other.

Shape the larger portion into an elongated triangle (it’ll probably be appx. 18-24 inches long) with rounded corners for Santa’s head and hat. Move triangle to parchment-lined cookie sheet; continue Santa assembly by rolling out the rest of the portions on a floured surface and transferring them onto the triangle.

Divide the smaller portion in half. Shape and flatten one half into a beard. Using scissors or a pizza cutter, cut into thin strips to within 1 in. of top. Position on Santa’s face; twist and curl strips if desired.

Use the remaining dough for the mustache, nose, hat pom-pom and brim. Shape a portion of dough into a mustache; flatten and cut the ends into small strips with scissors. Place above beard. Place a small ball above mustache for nose. Fold tip of hat over and add another ball for pom-pom. Roll out a narrow piece of dough to create a hat brim; position under hat tip and pom-pom. With scissors, cut two slits for eyes; insert raisins or blueberries into slits. Let Santa rest for another 20-30 minutes.

In separate small bowls, beat egg each yolk. Add red food coloring to one yolk. First brush plain yolk over entire dough (including hat pom-pom), minus the hat, nose and cheeks. Then using the red yolk, carefully brush over hat, nose and cheeks. Doing the red egg wash last will help prevent running.

Cover loosely with foil and try to make sure the foil does not touch the bread (otherwise the foil will stick to the bread). Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf/ 15-16 servings.

Why Santa, what a big mustache you have!! (note to self, next year make mustache narrower)


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