Easter Bunny Brioche Rolls
Authors: Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François
Yes, we took on the Pinterest Easter bunnies. Have you seen them, pinned on everyone’s holiday boards? Turns out that picture is actually of a bunny cookie, and these sad rolls are more an accurate visual of how things would turn out. But, I’m happy to tell you that after making dozens upon dozens of rolls, we have some tips to help you make some cute little bunnies.
However, I won’t lie to you (it is Easter, after all) that they are a little tricky. And you may have some rolls that end up a little wonky. But, as my children oohed and ahhed over even the misshapen ones, I could see we had a winner idea.
I made the bunnies with the whole wheat brioche dough, the challah dough, and the master dough. recipe (see below). The master dough made slightly better bunnies – the ears held their shape a bit better, but I will admit the brioche (see recipe below) made for a tastier treat (especially coated in sugar). Whichever dough you use, make sure it is very cold (chilled at least overnight).
To Make the Bunnies: (Head to our Instagram page for videos on how to make the bunnies! You can find them located in our Instagram Stories)
Make the dough:
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 package RED STAR Platinum Superior Baking Yeast (can also use RED STAR Active Dry, or Quick-Rise yeast (2 1/4 tsp or 1/4oz, package))
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 8 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup honey (this is my all time favorite!)
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Mix the yeast, salt, eggs honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.
Mix in the flour, using a spoon until all of the flour is incorporated.
Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours. Note: Sometimes with brioche, with so much cold egg, if you don’t use warm enough water, the initial rise can be very slow. Professionals would fix this by letting the eggs come to room temperature, which solves the problem. You can do that, or just make sure that your final mixture of egg/butter/water is nice and warm (but not hot, or you can kill the yeast).
The dough can be used as soon as it is chilled. This dough is way too sticky to use after the initial rise, but once it is chilled (at least overnight in the refrigerator) it is very easy to handle. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Shape the dough:
Preheat your oven to 350°F, and then line baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove 2 pounds of the dough from the refrigerator. Divide the dough into 2-ounce pieces, and roll into a ball on a lightly floured surface. (The rolls puff up quite a bit, and I found making them any bigger didn’t work well; the bunnies just looked very ‘blobby’.) Shape the dough into an oval, and then use a sharp scissor to cut the bunny ears. You want the ears to be a bit thick; if they are too thin they will bake right back into the roll without any shape.
After snipping out ears, gently pull the ears back and round off the point (I’ve found this to be important, otherwise the ears shrink and take the shape of pigs or cat ears). Gently press the ears into the roll, but not too much or they will bake right back in. Gently brush the bunnies with egg wash, and then use the sharp end of a skewer or toothpick to poke eye holes. Use the dull end of the skewer to make ear indentations. You may have to do this a few times to make it stay. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 15 minutes (this will help bunnies keep their shape) and then bake for 13-17 minutes until golden brown.
Let the bunnies cool slightly on the baking sheet. If desired, you can use a pastry brush to brush them lightly with melted butter, and then roll the bunnies into granulated sugar, or sprinkle them lightly with the sugar. You may have to re-poke the eye holes both after they come out of the oven, and after rolling them in sugar.
(Of course, if you are getting frustrated at any point, you can roll the 2-ounce portions into balls, and bake them into circles. Then, brush with butter and roll into sugar, and serve! Easy sugared brioche rolls for breakfast or Easter brunch.)
Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François met in their children’s music class in 2003 and have written bread cookbooks with more than 715,000 copies in print. Jeff, a doctor by training, is a self-taught baker who grew up eating great bread and pizza in New York City, and longed to recreate it himself. Zoë is a pastry chef and baker trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Her work appears in blogs all over the United States, and her dessert menus grace fine restaurants in the authors’ hometown, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jeff and Zoë were among the very first cookbook authors to support their readers with personal responses on their website, BreadIn5.com, beginning in 2007, where they blog about their super-fast yeast breads.