Braided Bread Dolls with Hard Boiled Egg Faces
Today I am creating a pair of lovely braided bread dolls inspired by a baking project I did with my mother when I was small. I can't remember now what kind of bread we used then, but I do remember being amazed and delighted by the charming baby doll that came out of the oven. Today I decided to go with a mildly sweet challah bread, but there are lots of bread types that can be braided in this way.
Challah Bread Recipe:
- 4 c. flour
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/4 tsp. instant dry yeast
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks (reserving the whites for eggwash)
- 1 cup water
- 2 hard boiled eggs for doll heads
Combine all dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients (reserving the two egg whites to be used later.) Add wet to dry, bringing together with a spoon, and then your hands. Turn out onto a surface, adding flour if needed. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and stretchy. Lightly oil a bowl, form the dough into a ball and roll it around in the bowl to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 2 hours, punching down the dough halfway through to release gas pockets. After the dough has risen, use a knife to divide the dough in half. Each half will form one loaf/doll.
Take the half-portion of dough, and cut off one third. With your hands, roll out each piece to form two ropes: one long and one short. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Lay out the ropes in a 'T' formation with the shorter segment running vertically. Gently pinch them together where they meet, and then press a hard boiled egg onto the top of the short segment. Wrap the long horizontal sections around the sides of the egg, and then begin braiding. At the end of the braid, tuck the ends underneath. Cover with a towel and let rise 1 hour.
325°F for 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Baking times may vary depending on your oven. Remove from the oven when the temperature of the bread reads 190°F at its center. Cool completely.
Use permanent markers to draw faces on the eggshells.