Easter bread comes in all different shapes and sizes, from hot cross buns to the Greek Tsoureki I grew up with — but it's never been quite so adorable or easy. These Easter bread bunnies are quick to make and finished with a delicious surprise.
At our Greek Easter celebration you'll always find big braided rings of sweet dough baked around red eggs on the table. They make a gorgeous centerpiece and everyone loves them. But like all great yeasty breads, they take forever to make. Real talk: This busy lady does not have time to watch dough rise, so I created my own sweet twist that, fingers crossed, is so adorable no one will notice the shortcut. Will the family comment that the eggs are missing? Probably, but that's okay. I wanted these to be as quick and easy as possible for me and you, too! So if you're looking to whip something for your family, you have to try these beautiful buns.
Frozen vs. Fresh Dough
Here's the trick to keeping this recipe fast and fun: Use store-bought pizza dough as the base. The easiest dough to work with is the kind that comes in the refrigerator tube; it's soft and pliable — far more limber than the "real" stuff. Just be sure to give it plenty of time to come to room temperature before working with it.
There are a few ways to defrost. If you have the time, let it thaw in the fridge overnight, and then let it come to room temperature. Otherwise, you can place in an oiled bowl, cover, and warm in a very low oven. If your oven has a bread-proof setting like mine does, even better. Another option is to seal the dough in an airtight bag and let it float around in some warm water for a bit.
Traditional pizza dough works, too, and a good trick is to buy some from your local slice joint. Store it on the kitchen counter in a bowl lightly greased with olive oil, roll it around to coat, and cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth until you're ready to start baking. You can let the dough sit overnight or during the day while you're busy doing other things.
Stretching and Shaping the Dough
In this recipe, the dough is stretched and sliced into the shape of the bunny, but that's not the only delicious shape you can make. Experiment with braids, knots, and rings to create your own Easter creation. To separate the dough into small pieces, I like to use kitchen scissors; to stretch the dough, the best thing is to work the dough, off the kitchen counter and in your hands, letting gravity do its thing. Be gentle and patient; pulling at it will tear the dough. Bounce it, wiggle it, or shake it around instead. It works — and it's way more fun, too.
A Funfetti Finish
Traditionally Greek Easter bread is sweetened with sugar, maybe some orange zest, and other spices. Since tradition is already out the window, for these bunnies I decided we might as well go totally crazy and flavor them like confetti cake! To get the full effect, brush the outside of the dough with melted butter, then top with sprinkles and confetti cake mix. The butter acts like glue and helps all the sweetness of the mix and sprinkles stick to the outside of the dough. Plus, it helps you get the perfect golden crust.
A final note: While anybunny would be happy to eat these on Easter Sunday (or whenever), these buns are best served warm. No one's ever swooned over a room-temperature cinnamon roll or cold croissant! Fresh from the oven, these bunnies are soft, steamy, and total perfection. And since we're using pizza dough as a shortcut, the dough becomes harder and denser the longer it sits out. If you need to, pop them in a low oven or the microwave to reheat. Eat them plain or slathered with butter and jam.
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut and stretch dough into 6-inch pieces, about 2 inches wide.
How To Make Easter Bread Bunnies
Serves 8 to 10
What You Need
1 pound pizza dough
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup confetti cake mix
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut and stretch dough: Stretch the dough and cut into 6-inch pieces, about 2 inches wide.
Make the ears: One piece at a time, use kitchen scissors to make a slice down the center of the dough strip, about 3/4 of the way. Separate the 2 halves to create ears. Arrange about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. (Optional: Roll up the bottom of the strips to create rounded bunny bottoms, pinching dough slightly to secure.)
Add the toppings: Brush bunnies with the melted butter. Sprinkle with nonpareils and confetti cake mix.
Bake: Bake about 10 minutes or until the bunnies are lightly golden-brown. Serve immediately.
(Image credits: Erin Phraner)