This bread is named after the shapes that can be formed. The inspiration came from fanciful bread made for tourists at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, but the shapes are limited only by your imagination.
Hands-on: 45 minutesTotal: 11 hours 15 minutes
- 1½ cups warm water
- 1¾ tsp. active dry yeast (1 package)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 cups bread flour
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- To make the sponge, combine water and yeast, stir to dissolve, and let stand 5 minutes. Add all-purpose flour and beat 1 minute. Cover and let stand at room temperature 8 hours.
- Add to the sponge the sugar, butter, salt, and enough bread flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead 8–10 minutes. Add flour only to reduce stickiness. Return to bowl, dust with flour, cover with plastic, and rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1½ hours.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment, and sprinkle with cornmeal. Turn risen dough onto a floured surface, and form into animal shapes (see instructions below). Place on prepared pans, dust generously with flour, cover again with plastic, and rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 475°F. Bake until golden brown and hollow sounding, about 20–30 minutes. Cool completely on a rack before serving.
- To create Alligator Bread, divide dough into 2 portions, one twice as large as the other. Roll the large portion into a tapered baguette, and place on baking sheet, seam-side down. Divide remaining dough into 4 small teardrop-shaped balls. Tuck the tapered ends of the teardrops under the baguette, 2 on each side, for feet. After proofing, use scissors to cut small V-shaped scales down the back. Snip small Xs for eyes, and snip open a mouth. Bake as instructed.
- To create Crab Bread, divide dough into 2 equal portions. Roll one into a ball, and place on the baking sheet, seam-side down. Divide remaining piece in half. Form one half into a long rope, and the other into 2 large and 2 small balls. Wrap the rope around the back in a U-shape for arms. Place a large ball at each end of the rope for claws. Place the 2 small balls on top of the crab body for eyes. After proofing, use scissors to snip scales across the back, and snip each claw open. Bake as instructed.
- To create Turtle Bread, divide dough into 2 equal portions. Roll one into a ball, and place on the baking sheet, seam-side down. Divide remaining dough into 5 small balls and 1 medium ball. Roll balls into a teardrop shape. Tuck the tapered ends under the large ball. The medium ball is the head, and the rest are four legs and a tail. After proofing, score the large ball (shell) in a crosshatch pattern, and make two tiny balls for eyes. Bake as instructed.