A SWEET, WHIMSICAL, LEMONY DELIGHT
Growing up, this delicious lemon Bunny Bread was a staple at our Easter Sunday brunch (post-egg-hunting, of course). It’s a tradition in our family, one that my Italian-immigrant grandmother started. But it’s far from an Italian tradition! The recipe was borne of Grandma’s desire to fit into American culture (and probably clipped from Good Housekeeping). It still had familiarity, though, as lemon bread is also a common Italian baked good. And boy, is it delicious.
Here’s the recipe. Mangia!
I knew I’d be spending Easter Sunday alone and wanted to do something extra special, just for myself. So I planned to attempt the traditional Bunny Bread—for the first time! I also grabbed some pretty lilies because why not.
***Make this the night before Easter Sunday. Store in refrigerator***
THE DOUGH STARTER
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 1 1⁄2 cup flour
Dissolve yeast in water. Add flour. Stir, cover, and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
COMPLETING THE DOUGH
- 3/4 cup Crisco (I subbed butter, which is an equal substitution)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, unbeaten
- 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- about 3 1/4 cups flour (you might end up adding more in)
- ***also: 8 eggs for hard-boiling during the process
With mixer, beat Crisco and add sugar and salt until fluffy. Beat in eggs. Stir in yeast mixture, lemon rind and juice. Add enough flour to make dough that can be handled easily. Place in large greased bowl. Brush with melted shortening. Cover with cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk. Hard boil 8 eggs. Cool at room temperature.
SHAPING THE DOUGH
Turn dough onto floured board. Knead gently. Let rest 2 min. Divide in half. Form into 2 ropes, about 30” long. Grease 2 large cookie sheets. Cut each rope into two pieces, one approx. 10” and the other 20”. On first cookie sheet, form 20” piece into the shape of a rabbit, inserting three hard-boiled eggs in the body (using the long piece), and one in the head (using the short piece for the head and tail).
Repeat for second bunny.
Bake at 350 degrees approximately 35 minutes, until slightly brown. Let cool. Frost with confectioner’s sugar glaze, flavored with lemon flavoring. Add sprinkles while glaze is moist. Makes 2 rabbits.
A PHOTO OF HOW TO SHAPE THE BUNNY WITH THE DOUGH ROPE:
I also improvised with some fresh lemon juice and zest (because I forgot to buy lemon flavoring at the store); with pink crystal sprinkles; and with some shaved unsweetened coconut because why not? It was delicious!
AND TO KEEP IT REAL, HERE’S (SOME OF) THE MESS I LEFT BEHIND:
Okay, so it’s not that bad. I had plans to show you how atrocious my floor was (covered in flour and dog hair) and how backed up my sink was (dishes all over the place), but I frantically cleaned between dough rising fiascos and waiting for things to boil/bake. In this case, the behind-the-scenes view isn’t that embarrassing. Boring!
Happy Easter and happy baking!