While any sharp pair of scissors will work, we recommend using pointed kitchen shears to create the details on both the allegator and the turtle!
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Proof Time: 45 minutes
Bake time: 15 to 20 minutes
Yield: 2 shaped breads
5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope Fleischmann's® RapidRise Yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter OR margarine
Gum drops and/or almond slivers, for alligator
Whole cloves, for turtle
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large mixer bowl. Heat water, milk and butter to very warm (120° to 130°F). Butter may not melt completely. Stir warm liquids into flour mixture and beat 2 minutes with electric mixer. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead 6 to 8 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Cover dough and let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough in half and proceed according to desired shapes. Use half this recipe for each of the shapes below.
Alligator: Use 3/4 of the dough to form a roll about 16 inches. This is the body. Shape one end for a blunt head and the other end to a long tail, curving slightly. Place on greased baking sheet. Place 2 gumdrops in head for eyes.
Divide remaining dough into 4 equal parts for legs. Form each part into a log about 5 inches long. Place the 4 logs in appropriate places along the sides of the body, curving them slightly to look like legs. Cover; let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Brush alligator with egg wash. Using sharp scissors, snip the end of each leg in 3 places to look like claws. Also snip down the back at 1/2-inch intervals to form "scales" on the back of the alligator. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until done. Immediately upon removing the bread from the oven, carefully split the head of the alligator lengthwise to form mouth. Insert several slivered almonds or gumdrops to form "teeth".
Turtle: Use 3/4 of the dough to form a large smooth ball to make the body. Place on a greased baking sheet. Divide the remaining piece of dough in half. With one half make a small head and a thin tail. Place at opposite sides of the ball, just under the edge. With remaining piece of dough, make 4 small legs and place under the body, two on each side. Cover; let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Brush turtle with egg wash. Slash back of turtle in checkerboard fashion to make it look like a shell. Using sharp scissors, snip the end of each leg in 3 places to look like claws. Insert whole cloves in the head to make eyes, if desired. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for about 15 minutes, or until done.
Other Animals: Let your imagination run "wild". Give kids a portion of dough and let them create their own.
* Egg wash is optional, but gives the crust a beautiful shine. If you forget to do so before baking, you can still apply egg wash 5 minutes before the bread is to come out of the oven.
* For less shine but a deep, golden brown color and very good flavor, brush butter on loaf just out of the oven.