Bunny Baker’s Bloat and Other Dough Disasters

Bloated bunny breads

Bloated bunny breads

Recently I started a new board on Pinterest dedicated to “Beautiful Bread” and the first two pins that I added were for bread bears and bread bunnies. I was completely taken by how adorable they looked and simply had to have a go at one of them.

Since I needed to make some more bread yesterday I decided to use a portion of the dough for bunnies, as they looked pretty simple to do. Pfft!

Now that I feel I have got the hang of making good bread, I was feeling very complacent I guess, when I finished kneading and stood back to take this picture of my lovely dough.

The perfect dough, or is it...?

The perfect dough, or is it…?

And then it struck me that I had not remembered to add the oil before mixing. Doh! It was one of those moments when you teeter on the edge of a precipice, weighing up whether to leap off into the unknown anyway, or go back and try to find your way onto the right path. Hmm, that puts me in mind of Dante’s opening lines from Canto I of L’inferno (Inferno):

Nel mezzo del cammin della nostra vita,
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.

(Midway along the journey of life,
I found myself in a dark wood,

because the right path was lost.)

Almost the perfect loaf

Almost the perfect loaf

So I simply made a deep impression in the centre of my dough, poured in the oil (I like to use macadamia oil), and started kneading. At first it seemed to have been a mistake, but it all came together nicely eventually, and what do you know, it came out as probably the nicest textured white bread I have ever baked!

As for the bunnies… Sheesh! Where do I start! No matter how much gentle coaxing I did, they would not retain the egg shape I was going for, reverting constantly to giant champignons. And after snipping in the ears, and trying to make them look less like spiky cactus leaves, and more like baby bunny ears, the beautiful smooth surface of the dough had taken on the appearance of scar tissue. Poor bunnies.

You can see from the picture that my woes did not end with the shaping and snipping. During the baking they developed a condition I have dubbed Bunny Baker’s Bloat, many of them rolling over slightly onto their sides.

Now, if I am to find a positive in all this, it is again that the texture of the bread inside was divine, and I enjoyed eating every last one of them with lashings of butter. And the whole experience leaves me with a fierce determination to try, try again to perfect baby bunny breads yet.

Post script: Upon reflection I have concluded that the major part of the problem was that it was a 37℃ (98.6℉) day in Perth, and high heat and humidity are not very helpful when working with yeast. Those bunnies were puffing up faster than I could subdue them, and a bit of fridge time might truly have helped…

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