We got this idea from the chinese Bunny Bao, dim sum steamed buns which are filled with eggs, and ham, plus spring chives...so perfect for our OSTARA FEAST they are sure to become a family tradition.
Makes about 12 bunnies
What you need:
For the buns
- 625g/1.3lb strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground mixed spice
- 45g/ 1.5 oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
- 85g/3oz sugar
1 lemon, zest only
- 1˝ tsp fast-action yeast
- 1 free-range egg
- 275ml/10fl oz tepid milk
- 125g/4oz mixed dried fruit
- A polythene cooking bag
- Waxed Paper
For the filling
- about 6oz Ham, 1 thick slice (1/4 inch) cut into small dice
- 3 large eggs
- maple syrup
- 3 Tbs. chives, finely chopped
For the finish
- a pair of sharp scissors to make the bunny features
- fresh picked nasturtiums, carnations, fennel or other garden herbs for garnish
- 1 tbsp Maple syrup, gently heated for the glaze
For the buns, sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon zest and yeast.
Beat the egg and add to the flour with the tepid milk. Mix together to a form a soft, pliable dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Carefully work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined. Knead lightly for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Grease a large, warm mixing bowl with butter. Shape the dough into a ball and place it into the prepared bowl, then cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for one hour to prove.
Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, then cover again with the tea towel and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rise.
Punch down the risen dough, roll into a snake and cut into 12 equal pieces. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly into a bun shape using the palms of your hands. Cover the buns again with the tea towel and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
||Flatten a dough ball to about 12 cm / 5 inches in diameter, making the edges thinner than the middle part.
||Place about 1 teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the dough circle. Don’t try to overfill or you will have trouble closing up the dough.(add a small slice of cheese or a sprinkle of chopped walnuts for an added taste surprise.)
||Gather up the dough around the filling, pinching to seal well. The dough should be moist enough to form a good seal, but if not brush the edges with the tiny bit of water and pinch closed again.
||Flip the bun over, and form into a longish oval shape, rounding out any bumps if needed. Look at the bun and decide which end looks best as the ‘face’ of the bunny
||Lay a pair of clean, sharp scissors almost flat against the top of the bun lenghwise. The points should aim for about 1/3 from the ‘face’ end of the bun. Snip two ‘ears’, taking care not to cut through the dough so the filling is exposes.
||Here’s how the bunny should look after the ears are snipped. If the ears are too round, flatten them carefully with your fingers
||To make the eyes, poke small holes with a chopstick end and poke in a piece of chive in each hole. Don’t go too deep!
||Grease a baking tray with butter and transfer the buns to the tray, making sure they don't touch (they will double in size) Wrap the tray with the buns on it loosely in greaseproof paper, then place inside a large polythene bag. Tie the end of the bag tightly so that no air can get in and set aside in a warm place for a further 40 minutes to rise.
Preheat the oven to 475F
In the meantime, make the filling.
In a dry non-stick frying pan, coat the ham with the maple syrup, brown lightly and set aside (Drain well on a paper towel).
Beat together the egg & milk. In the same non-stick frying pan, mix the egg around to make scrambled eggs that are firm but not hard (take of the heat while still soft, and they’ll continue to cook to the ideal firmness). Add the chives and the ham at the end and mix well. Let cool to room temperature..
Transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the hot golden syrup, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.
Notes If you want to make these for Easter Sunday, they are best if you can bake them in the morning. In order to accomplish this without waking up at a ridiculously early hour, you can make the dough the night before, do the first 1 hour rising, and then leave it in the refrigerator in a tightly closed plastic bag. Take it out in the morning and form the cool dough, and do the final 40 minute rising.
Alternatively, you can bake them before and freeze them without the glaze. Warm them through in the oven (at around 160°C/325°F) wrapped in foil for about 15-20 minutes until warmed through, and then glaze.
Shortcut You can use a couple of rolls of premade dough (crescent rolls) which cuts down your time significantly. Open up the cans of dough and let them sit till they are room temperature then make your dough balls, flatten, fill, etc. No need to set aside in a polythene bag for 40 minutes, just maybe 5 or ten minutes. Baking time should be according to the package.