Honey Bunnies

raw bunny3


And a Happy New 2014 to all!

I’m a bit slow getting back into the swing of things after the festive season, but the recipe I’ve got for you this week is a great melding of the old and the new – a 17th century bun recipe and a cute way to shape the dough, if you feel inclined. If the urge doesn’t strike you, then just shape it into regular buns – and be comforted that you have been spared the need to bite off a bunny head.

I saw this bun at the Dutch Baking Museum in Hattem, near Zwolle which we visited over the Christmas holidays. It is a fabulous little museum which received no government funding, so if you’re in the area, or even likely to pass nearby, do please call in. Alternately, head on over to Facebook and ‘Like’ their page.

You enter through the museum shop, behind which is the recreation of the mill, the baker’s shop and living quarters.Here are just a few of the pics I took:

In the cellars, a tunnel leads under the road to the demonstration kitchen, tea-room and more exhibits.You can get a glimpse of the museum in this virtual tour: Click the arrows to navigate – don’t forget to look behind you!

The best and must-see attraction whilst you’re there has to be the demonstration show by Fred the Baker, seen on the right in the photo below (taken from the Bakkerijmuseum website, all copyright remains with them).

Baker Fred in mid demo

Baker Fred – aka Fred Voskuil – has been at the museum for 25 years, starting as a volunteer and was made one of the directors in 2012. He is a born showman, comedian, master baker – and held the not inconsiderable crowd of children spellbound for almost an hour, making a range of animals and buns from a batch of dough, ably helped by several of the youngest audience members. See Fred bake in the museum oven and talk (Dutch only, no subtitles) about his passion in this video. Search ‘bakker Fred’ on YouTube for more videos of him demonstrating his skills.

The recipe for the dough comes from one of the many digital manuscripts made available by The Wellcome Institute, and dates from 1699. The original was a bit sparse in some of the instructions (“add honey to sweeten” “what spice you will”), but I’ve experimented and come up with a version that is rich, not too sweet and delicately spiced. I specifically wanted a recipe that did not contain fruit, but feel free to throw some in if you like. Additionally, mix it up with your own spice blends.

Honey Bunnies

Makes 12 buns

450g strong, white flour – plus extra for kneading.
1 sachet easy-blend yeast
2tsp ground cinnamon
2tsp ground nutmeg
1tsp ground allspice
250ml whole milk
113g honey
113g unsalted butter
2 large eggs

  • Put the honey, butter and milk into a small pan and warm gently until the butter has melted and the honey dissolved.
  • Whisk the eggs in a bowl.
  • When the milk mixture has cooled to blood temperature, pour into the whisked eggs, stirring briskly.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine.
  • Make a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients.
  • Stir together until the mixture comes together in a soft dough. Important: The texture of the dough depends on the moisture content of the ingredients, including that of the flour, eggs, butter and honey. It is probably going to look too wet. Don’t panic. Knead in extra flour to bring it back to a consistency with which you’re happy. It is better to have it slightly too soft, than too dry.
  • Knead for 10 minutes until smooth.
  • Cover and set to rise until doubled in size. The butter and the honey will mean that it will take longer to rise than regular bread dough, so think more in terms of 2-3 hours than just a single hour.
  • When risen, tip out from the bowl and press out the air.
  • Fold the dough together loosely and weigh it.
  • Cut into 12 portions. Using a digital scale will give you the greatest accuracy and therefore a more even batch overall.
  • Shape into buns. To help you shape the dough into bunnies, I’ve prepared a photographic how-to. Clicking on the pictures will take you to an enlarged version, also with text.
  • Set the buns onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment while the oven heats up.
  • Heat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • I opted not to glaze the dough, but if you prefer to, brush with milk and/or egg yolk.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, turning the baking tray around 180 degrees after 10 minutes to ensure even baking.
  • Leave cooked buns on the baking sheet and cover with a clean cloth to cool. This will help to keep the crust soft.
  • Eat warm, either as is or with butter.

Baked honey bunnies.

3 Comments on “Honey Bunnies”

  1. Willemijn says:

    Eeek! How exciting! Never heard of the museum, but will definitely check it out sometime soon. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Liz says:

    I might give that recipe a try next time my little niece and nephew come to visit. I’ve never made an enriched dough so perhaps I should practice first.

  3. Jenna says:

    Perfect timing with this recipe (I’m starting to wonder if you are somehow synched into my calendar somehow… if you are, my dad’s birthday is at the end of the month, he’s mad for lemon, any ideas? Lol) I’m getting a chance to go visit my niece, who’s nickname has been Bunny since birth and have been scratching my head for something special to make her. Sweet without being overwhelmingly so, and too cute for words (rather like her). I’m going to make a few runs at it before the visit (I have to swap things around to make your recipes GF because of my celiac, but to my surprise, so far almost every recipe of yours I have tried seems to go out of its way to be adaptable to GF flours. It’s the first ‘normal’ baking cookbook/blog that I can say that about, which is just… odd. But happy making!) but I think if I try a new trick I recently learned – use a GF flour mix I make 2x a month or more, and once the dough is mixed, toss into a dough bucket and allow to sit/soak/and slowly rise for a day or two in the fridge before kneading/shaping/baking. If I can get it right, my niece is going to be squealing and dragging me off into the kitchen to make more, WITH her this time. Looks just delicious!

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