I created this bread for the 2011 National Festival of Breads. Not only did I enter it in the bread category, but I also entered it in the "bread sculpture" category.
Needless to say, the hedgehog did not come home as a winner. But that's okay. It means I can share it here with mad abandon instead of making it hang around a contest venue.
The snipping technique I used on the hedgehog is one I use a lot, but this time in a more whimsical way. The egg-washed face makes a nice contrast with the non-washed and not-shiny body. I like the way it turned out.
Honey adds a nice rich sweetness to this bread, but it's not overly sweet. It would be fine for sandwiches and it's perfect for toast.
And, not, it's not too cute to eat. It's too good NOT to eat.
Honey Hedgehog Bread
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 ounces semolina flour
11 1/4 ounces (2 1/2 cups) bread flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
Eggwash: 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine water, yeast, honey, and semolina. Stir to combine and set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Add the bread flour to the bowl and knead with the dough hook until the mixture becomes smooth and elastic. Add the butter and salt and continue kneading until the butter and salt are completely incorporated.
Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and return to the bowl, turning the dough to cover it completely with a film of oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Or, if you prefer, you can sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking sheet.
Place the dough, seam-side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled, about 30 minutes.
With your fingers, the dull side of a knife, or a similar tool, make an indent around the very tip (no more than 1/4 inch) of the pointy end of the dough. You don’t want to cut through the dough – just make an indent all around. Then, with your fingers, form that small bit at the end into a small round ball that will be the nose.
The eyes should be placed about 2 inches up from the nose. Use a small scissors or a small sharp knife to cut two small circles into the dough to form the eyes. You don't want to remove the center and leave a hole - just cut circles into the dough about 1/8 inch deep.
Starting just above the eyes, use the scissors held almost parallel to the surface of the dough to make small snips in the dough to create the spines of the hedgehog. Continue snipping from side to side all the way to the large end of the dough so the entire surface is covered with “spines.”
With a pastry brush, apply the egg wash to the face area of the hedgehog, stopping before the spines.
Bake at 350 degrees. After the first 10 minutes, the dough may have risen to expose more dough near the face that was not egg washed. Apply egg wash to those areas as well. Continue baking until the bread is nicely browned and it sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, about 20 more minutes.
Note: since all ovens are different, you might need to rotate the pans during baking so the hedgehog browns evenly, and if the bread is browning too quickly, you might need to lower the oven temperature slightly.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a rack before slicing.
This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.