Yum! I made this bear bread last week, to enjoy with soup (not terribly seasonal, I know, but though the calendar may tell us that it is June, but here in England, at least where we live, for most of the time just now, it feels more like October!). It is actually very easy to make, and everyone always smiles when they see it sitting on the table!
If you would like to make a loaf of bear bread for your family, here is how I do it ...
You will need ...
1/8 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
I tablespoon dried milk powder
1 tablespoon caster sugar
3 cups strong flour (I used white, but you could also use wholegrain, in which case you may need to add a little more water to mix the dough)
1 1/4 teaspoons dried yeast
A few raisins for decoration
1. Add all the ingredients apart from the raisins to your bread maker in the order listed, and set the machine to the "dough" setting.
2. When the dough is done, remove from the machine pan and place on a floured surface. Set your oven to heat up at a moderate-high temperature (I switch to about 210 on our fan-assisted oven).
3. Divide the dough into 2 balls, then divide one of these balls into 2 again. These are for the bear's head, body, limbs and features. The sizes don't have to be all that exact - part of the charm is that he looks "home baked", so don't worry too much if your measurements aren't very precise - mine never are.
4. Take one of the smaller balls, and divide this into 6 small balls (for the limbs and features). Make one ball very slightly bigger than the rest.
5. Divide this slightly bigger ball into 2 for the ears.
6. Arrange the body parts on a greased baking tray using the largest ball for the bear's tummy, the middle sized ball for his head, the 5 equally sized smaller balls for his paws and nose, and the 2 smallest balls to make his ears. Use a little water to moisten both surfaces to get them to stick.
7. Use the raisins to make eyes and a mouth - I give him a tummy button as well, or you could put buttons all the way down his front like a gingerbread boy! You may need to cover these with foil when the bear is baking (with a fan oven the circulating air always seems to blow the foil off whilse it is cooking, so even so, sometimes they do burn a bit, as they did this time!).
8. If you like, use an egg wash (made of one beaten egg and a couple of tablespoons of water) to add a glaze to the bear before you put him in the oven.
9. Bake the bear until he is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the underside. The timing can vary - it usually takes between 20 and 35 minutes in our oven.
10. When done, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Although this bear bread is best eaten warm, straight from the oven (after a little cooling time if you can "bear" to wait), it is also delicious cold, and slices quite nicely into good-sized pieces!