I am not a very art-inclined person, so I was quite happy that this santa claus bread turned out well for me, although my sister in Singapore commented that it looked like an octopus when I whatsapped her a foto of the finished bread. Actually, the beard of the santa really looked like an octopus, and his moustache looked like a crab, LOL! OMG, my santa claus has turned into a marine creature. =)
This recipe is adapted from Taste of Home with modifications. I have listed the ingredients in terms of metrics, as I am not comfortable with using US cup measurements.
4 to 4.5 cups bread flour (I used 4 cups or 508grams)
112g fine sugar
4.5 tsp or 13.5g instant yeast
1 tsp salt (reduced from the original 1.5 tsp)
57g unsalted butter, diced
2 eggs at room temp
2 egg yolks
a few drops of red colouring (I used Wilton food colouring)
1. In a large bowl, combine (2 cups or 254g of) bread flour, salt and sugar together.
2. In a small saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to about 49 to 54C (120-130F), the mixture must not be too hot since yeast is killed at a temperature of 55-60C or 130-140F. Rule of thumb is that the mixture must be warm but not too hot and still ok to touch with your finger.
3. Add yeast to the liquid mixture and stir well and let it sit for 5 min until foamy. This is to check if your yeast is alive. (If you are confident, you can skip the waiting and straight away add the liquid to the dry ingredients. I am using instant yeast / rapid-rise yeast, which actually doesn't require dissolving in water, but I am just following the recipe.)
4. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients (bread flour, salt and sugar), beat until just moistened and formed into a dough. Then add in beaten eggs. Add in enough flour (the remaining 2 cups or 254g) until a stiff dough is formed, then knead until it becomes smooth, non-stick and pliable and the texture feels like plasticine. (I used my BOSCH MUM5 stand-mixer and I used the kneading hook to knead at speed 3 for 10 min, until the dough became elastic and stretchable but yet to achieve windowpane stage. You can knead by hand if you like.)
5. Place the dough into a big bowl greased with a little vegetable oil, turning the dough once to grease the top of the dough as well. Cover with greased clingwrap and let it proof in a warm place for 1 hour or so, or until doubled in volume.
6. Preheat oven to 175C or 350F.
7. Shaping of the bread : Punch down the dough to de-gas, and divide the dough into 2 portions, one slightly bigger than the other. The weight of the dough was about 900g, so I divided it into 500g and 400g each.
- Roll out the bigger 500g dough (using a slightly floured rolling pin on a slightly floured work surface) into an elongated triangle with rounded corners, this will serve as the Santa's hat and face. Transfer it onto a baking tray lined with baking paper or a greased cooking sheet. Make sure there is enough room for expansion at the top, bottom and sides.
- For the 400g dough, divide further into 2 pieces of 200g each. Shape and flatten 1 piece into a big semi-circle, then using a pair of scissors or knife, cut into very thin strips until 1 inch from the top. Position the beard onto the lower half of Santa's face, then twist and curl the strips.
- For the remaining 200g dough, divide into 4 (not necessarily equal) portions for the moustache, nose, pom-pom of the hat, and brim of the hat.
- For the moustache, just roll the dough out into an small rectangle, make a twist in the middle and cut the ends into small strips, then place it above the beard.
- For the nose, just roll the dough into a small ball and place it above the moustache.
- For the pom-pom, just roll the dough into a small ball, fold the tip of the hat over and place the pom-pom at the end of the folded tip.
- For the hat brim, just flatten the dough into a rectangle and place it where the hat is.
- For the eyes, I just made 2 small indents with the tip of my finger and inserted a raisin into each indent.
9. Prepare a piece of aluminium foil big enough to cover the santa. Grease the shiny part of the foil and cover the bread loosely with the shiny part facing down. Make sure the foil don't stick to the bread.
10. Bake in preheated oven at 180C for 15 min, then remove the foil and bake further for 10 to 12 min or until golden brown. When you are removing the foil, you can take the opportunity to touch up the bread and glaze with red-coloured egg yolk, since the dough will expand and there will be parts of the dough which are not covered by the egg wash.
- I used 1 tsp salt instead of 1.5 tsp, and 4 cups of flour (508 grams) when the original recipe suggested 4 to 4.5 cups
- The original recipe said to combine 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt, but I think this may cause the instant yeast to be killed by the salt if you don't start the kneading process immediately. So I changed the steps such that you only combine bread flour with sugar and salt.
- There was a little hiccup along the way. While washing up the utensils right after putting the bread into the oven, I threw away the 2 bowls of egg-wash. But half-way through, after removing the foil, I realised I needed to touch up the bread since it has expanded and there were parts that were not glazed. Hence my advice is to retain the 2 bowls or egg-wash in case you need to touch up during half-time.
I am submitting this post to "My Treasured Recipes #4 - Ho Ho Ho It's Christmas (Dec 2014)" hosted by myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.
This post is also linked to "Cook and Celebrate Christmas 2014" organized by Yen from Eat Your Heart Out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.
This post is also linked to YeastSpotting.