|Active dry yeast||1⁄4 Ounce (1 Package)|
|Warm water||1⁄4 Cup (4 tbs) (About 110Â°F)|
|Butter/Margarine||3⁄8 Pound (At Room Temperature, 3/4 Cup)|
|Sugar||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)|
|Milk||1⁄3 Cup (5.33 tbs)|
|All purpose flour||4 3⁄4 Cup (76 tbs)|
In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand for about 5 minutes to soften.
Add butter, sugar, milk, salt, and 5 of the eggs.
Then beat in flour in 1 of the following ways.
With a heavy-duty mixer and dough hook.
Add 4 3/4 cups of the flour and beat on medium speed until dough pulls from bowl sides, about 10 minutes.
With a regular mixer and by hand.
Add 2 cups of the flour and beat on medium speed for 10 minutes.
Mix in 1 cup more flour with mixer on low speed or with a heavy spoon.
With a heavy spoon, stir in 1 3/4 cups more flour, moistening thoroughly (do not knead).
Cover dough (mixed by either method) with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until dough is almost doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Beat to expel air, then turn out onto a lightly floured board.
// you used a dough hook, shape dough into a smooth ball.
If you prepared dough without a dough hook, knead dough until smooth and velvety, about 10 minutes, adding as little flour as possible.
Overlap two 12- by 15-inch rimless baking sheets; adjust overlap so combined sheets cover within 1 inch of the full width or depth of your oven.
Cover with a sheet of foil; butter foil.
Divide dough into proportions to fit presketched design.
Remember to save a small piece to make decorative details.
For a solid area, shape dough into a ball and place smooth side up, then pat or roll out to achieve desired dimension and form (make no thicker than about an inch, or bread may crack as it bakes).
The dough expands as it bakes, so make the shape skinnier than you want the baked figure to be.
Butt pieces of dough against main shape if they are to be joined to it, such as head and tail of mermaid, feet and comb of chicken.
Leave at least 2 inches of space between sections you don't want joined together or touching each other, such as mermaid arms and curve of tail, teddy bear limbs.
For attached decoration such as eyes, bust, or bellybuttons, make teardrop-shaped pieces and set into holes punched in dough.
Attach larger decorations such as a chicken's wing by pushing an edge into the base; pinch lightly to hold.
To create surface detail such as mermaid eyes or scales, or to separate areas such as fingers, snip dough with kitchen scissors.
To make strands for arms, legs, or hair, roll pieces of dough between your palms.
Cover shaped dough lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 30 minutes.
Remove plastic wrap.
Beat together remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water; brush over dough.
Bake in a 350° oven until richly browned, about 30 minutes.
Let cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes, as bread is quite fragile while hot.
Slip a spatula under bread to free; slide gently onto rack to cool (or onto a tray if you plan to serve warm).
To store, wrap cooled loaf airtight and freeze.
To reheat, let thaw uncovered, then place on a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet.
Set in a 325° oven until hot, about 20 minutes.