Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Turtle Bread - #BreadBakers

There is a really old Jamaican Christmas tradition of using bread shaped like animals as a centrepiece on the Christmas table. Some refer to them as fancy breads. This tradition is so old that most of my friends had never heard of it. I guess it has gone the way of the Jonkonnu parades. They happen in some communities somewhere but most of us have only read or hear about them. I actually saw one in person for the first time this past Christmas. I was in a supermarket that I don't normally go into. The bakery by my house apparently sells them too but I didn't get a chance to stop by. 

Jamaican Duck Bread Source

The most popular animal seems to be a duck floating in a pond. I looked at a picture and honestly just couldn't figure out how I would do it. Probably a cop-out but I just couldn't figure out the breast area in particular. It seems a lot of details might get lost in the oven. So I went turtle instead. Easy enough - the hardest part is doing the slashes on the shell. I didn't do it well and Mr. Turtle looked fine enough. 

My nephew won't let me eat Mr. Turtle. He says the turtle needs to live out his 100 years so Mr. Turtle is now in the freezer. Don't tell my nephew, but he is going to become a bread pudding next week. 100 years comes really quickly when you're a turtle.

Thanks for hosting Animal Shaped Bread, Stacy! It was fun getting creative with my dough and I can't wait to try other animals - even that duck. Scroll down to see all the other animals. 

Turtle Bread

400 grams flour
3 tablespoons sugar 
2 teaspoons yeast 
1 teaspoon salt 
220 ml milk
3 tablespoons oil 
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 raisins or currants (eyes)
1 egg white plus a splash of water (egg wash)

Mix together all the ingredients (except the raisins and egg white) and then knead until you have a smooth dough. The dough should not be sticky. If it is sticky, add in some more flour. Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it has doubled. Alternatively, you can allow it to rest in the refrigerator overnight. 

When the dough is ready, pinch off a 70-gram piece and five 30-gram pieces. These will form his head, legs, and tail and the remaining dough will form the body. Shape the body into a flattened boule. Shape the 70-gram piece into a ball and then attach the head to the body.  Next shape the legs and tail. You can shape the tail a bit triangular. 

For the eyes, I suggest putting the raisins up a bit higher than you would think. As my dough proofed, the raisins moved lower and ended much lower during the oven spring. I had to use a toothpick to reattach them in the correct place. Honestly, sticking them on with a toothpick after baking is probably the easiest route. 

My eyes are too low.

Cover the dough and allow to proof at room temperature until noticeably puffy. This could take up to an hour depending on the temperature of your room. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

When the dough is ready, brush with the egg white mixed with water. Next, slash his back with a sharp knife to form his shell. Stress not if it isn't perfect. You can also give him some toes. I did cut some but didn't snip deep enough so that detail was lost in the oven.

Bake 35 minutes or until golden. 
Enjoy your creation! 

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.
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  1. This turtle looks so good, especially the design on the back.

  2. I LOVE your turtle bread. How cute. Thanks for joining in the party this month.

  3. It is hard to eat something so cute, I must admit. I felt the same way about animal crackers as a child. His shell is perfect! I hope you call it turtle bread pudding just to confuse the family. :) Jonkonnu is still a big thing in the Bahamas where it's called Junkanoo. Well, possibly not this year - but I'm surprised it's slipped away as a tradition in Jamaica.

  4. I love how they turned out. The shell with that glaze looks perfect.

  5. Mr. Turtle is splendid - I love the marks for the shell! 100 years is really just a weekend in baked turtle years, so that works. :D

  6. Your turtle is really cute, Love that shaell and perfect glaze.

  7. Adorable Mr. Turtle! He will be perfect for your bread pudding in 100 years! Wink wink.

  8. That's a perfect turtle bread. The shell has come out great. It looks cute!

  9. LOL, don't eat Mr. Turtle! He is quite gorgeous with that beautiful glaze and color, I can understand why your nephew wanted to save him for later. Totally love his shell markings.

  10. Beautiful turtle. Love the perfectly shaped shell. And its too cute to be munched on!

  11. The turtle has come out so nice. Very detailed and uniform too. Loved eat.