The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Grandma Dawn's blog

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Grandma Dawn's picture
Grandma Dawn

Several years ago I embarked on research and development of fun shaped buns.   The doughs I use are:  whole wheat, sweet roll, cheese, oatmeal, and caraway rye.  For the eyes I use currants, raisins, olive slices, a date slice filled with a craisin.   For fins and feet I sometimes roll out and cut pieces, other times I make a ball and cut toes in.  I use an egg white for the glaze and for some designs sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

Here are the tools I use: 

Dough cutter to divide the loaf, rolling pin, two scissors, bamboo skewer, chopstick, exacto knife, miscellaneous cookie cutters, and individual cue cards.

After the dough has risen the first time, I cut it into the number of wedges according to the number of buns I am making that day.  I found that working with wedges helped immensely to get the proportions correct for each bun.  I made a cue card for each design to show me how many pieces each design required and how to best cut the wedge to get the pieces.  I also added helpful notes from previous attempts. 

I like to make several different designs in one session.  That's where the cue cards come in handy.  Since you are working with a living organism working quickly is necessary.  I found it best to make a mix of easy and difficult designs so as to fit within the time frame I had.  I kept all pieces covered with lightly oiled clear wrap so as to prevent a crust from forming.  I found that making the bodies first then adding the smaller pieces worked the best.  I would shape the body, press it down to secure it on the pan then move on to the next body.  I would then start adding the smaller pieces, then the eyes and slash in details.  The bamboo skewer blunt end is used to make indents in the dough for the eyes and noses.  The chopstick is good for larger designs and also for cupping the ears of the bear.  The scissors are for the hedgehog and cat. 

 The cookie cutters are for the fish, grape cluster, and rose. 

Right up until the time they go in the oven I continue to check on them and push the dried fruit in, etc. if they start to fall out of the rising dough. 

At first I thought I had to pinch the pieces together but found that simply tucking them under slightly held them together just fine.

Just before baking I continue to make small adjustments, redefine slashes if necessary, then brush on the egg white.  If any egg white pools in the eyes I dab off the excess with a corner of a paper towel.

My failure rate is very small.  It seems that with a little diligence the eyes stay put and the pieces stick together.

 

 

Grandma Dawn's picture
Grandma Dawn

After forty plus years of baking breads I decided to create "fun buns" for my grandchildren.  Each weekend I would make a batch of buns.  I kept notes about what worked and what didn't.  Since I wanted the option of using the buns for sandwiches I started with ones that were basically round in shape.

My first attempt was four turtles.

I then wanted a pig.  I thought it would be cute to serve pulled pork on a piggy bun.  Ironically, the pig proved to be the most difficult for me.  Even now I'm not confident the ears and nose will stay in place.  I tried to cut the ears in but couldn't secure the tips.  And then the nose . . . but for now I'll post pictures and talk how to's in a later post.  I did finally find a design I liked . . . but it's a rather difficult one.

At one point I got so frustrated with trying to make the quantity of buns I needed to feed a group that I even considered making heads and tails . . .

Since dough is a living organismI decided I needed some easy designs so I could make some difficult and some easy in the time frame I had to work in.  I created a chick and hedgehog that are relatively easy.

At this point I was using whole wheat dough.  I decided to try sweet roll dough for Easter bunny and chicks.  The dough raised so much after shaping that the designs were distorted.

Snails worked okay, the center raising up was actually desirable.

I continued on with the bunny and came up with options.  One has cut in ears and the other is basically two pieces, body and head with the ears cut with scissors.

Then came the fish.  Since my sons had aquariums I decided to start with tropical fish.  I wanted texture and tried grated cheese on top . . . but, I got "ick" . . . for those of you who don't know what that is, it's a fungus.

Being a Minnesotan, I needed more fish, lots of fish.

Then it was football for the guys.

I love frogs . . . one easy, one difficult.

Want to ruin my day?  Ask me how to keep ears on the mouse.  I sure don't know how . . .

Ahhhh, bears!  Who doesn't love bears!

How about a family of bears?

At this point I started looking on the internet for ideas.  I found the book Kids' Ideas with frozen dough by Rhodes.  I made several of their designs and learned some new techniques.

I especially liked the cat for Halloween.

And now the reason I bake.  My grandson's first batch of "fun buns".  HE LIKES THEM!

 

 

 

Grandma Dawn's picture
Grandma Dawn

After years of baking bread I started making fun shapes.  My first attempts were using the entire batch of dough to make one large "Fun Bun". 

I made a frog for the neighbor girls.

Then a mouse for my backdoor neighbor.

I tried a pig next.

Then a lizzard???

For Easter . . .

Decided to try bread stick dough and came up with an octopus and starfish, using sesame seeds for details -

Using sweet roll dough, dried fruits, and frosting, came up with Mr. Caterpiller.

I used caraway rye dough to give the color and texture I needed for Super Bowl Sunday.

Then a grand daughter asked for a monkey.  For this I used a regular rye bread dough and the caraway rye bread.

Can't forget Santa . . .I took a picture of the before baking and after to show that some distortion occurs during rising.

For the ladies I needed a flower.

My daughter-in-law likes a glass of wine so I created a cheese bread "grape cluster" for her.  I really like this one because #1 you can make different sizes and #2 the bun is so tasty that you don't need anything to go with it. 

So, these are my edible centerpieces.  I have since gone to making as many as 12 "fun buns" out of one 3 C. (flour) dough recipe.  I'll post pictures of those and then share how to's.

 

Grandma Dawn's picture
Grandma Dawn

I started baking bread in 1969.  As a new bride I wanted to continue the family tradition of making Swedish Rye Bread.

A few years ago I was looking for ways to share my love of baking with my grandchildren.  Here are some "fun buns" I have created.

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