If you don't have spare sourdough starter lurking around, use your favorite bread recipe, or try this basic bread here or this semolina loaf.
You need a somewhat firm and nicely elastic dough for a shaped bread. If not, they can rise unpredictably, particularly during baking. And even with the right dough, shaped loaves can do some interesting things in the oven. Which is why I start early on these projects, so I can work out the bugs.
For the sourdough, I took about a cup of starter, added about 3/4 cup of water, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough flour to make a workable dough. Kneaded until it was elastic, then set it aside to rise in an oiled bowl until it doubled. It took a couple hours.
The oven was already set for 350 degrees, so I left it there.
I kneaded the dough, then cut it in half. One half was the body shape. In theory, this could be two balls of dough, but then you're risking that they're going to separate or move in strange ways. I formed an oval-ish ball, then made the "waist" to divide it at about the 1/3 point.
I cut the second half of the dough into four pieces and formed them into 4 long ropes. I arranged them on a parchment-lined baking sheet first, to form the legs. Again, keeping the legs as one piece for each pair of legs ensured that they wouldn't separate from the body during rising and baking.
Then set the body on top.
I covered it with plastic wrap...
... and let it rise until it was puffy and doubled, about an hour.
I baked it at 350 degrees until it was nicely browned, about 40 minutes.
He looks a little different baked, hmmm? It's always interesting to see how the shaped loaves shift and move as they bake. He's taller now, and fatter. But his legs are shorter. You can see where the paper underneath crumpled as the legs contracted a bit.
It's a nice loaf of bug. Or, as my husband said as he saw it on the table, "Breadsticks and everything."
This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.