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 Cinnamon Roll Easter Lamb Bread

As tempting as if it were golden, the sugary fleece on this lamb-shaped bread is sure to please anyone on Easter morning. And since cutting such a tender bread would squash it, the lamb's curls provide obvious places for pulling it apart.

This doughy creation looks elaborate but it's a breakfast bread that's easy to put together. Simply prepare and arrange rows of cinnamon sweet rolls into the shape of a fat woolly lamb. Then fashion the head, legs, and tail from the same easy-to-handle dough.

This recipe makes two large bread lambs, so you could serve one with Easter breakfast or brunch, then give the second one as a gift. Or you can freeze the second lamb to serve later.

The breads are best served warm with the orange-flavored icing still melting over the top. However, you can bake them a day ahead, then reheat and add frosting just before serving.

Cinnamon Roll Lamb

2 packages active dry yeast
About 4½ cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon mixed with ½ cup sugar
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Orange sugar glaze (recipe follows)
1. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, stir together yeast and 2 cups of flour.
2. Heat milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter (cut in chunks), and salt to 120º to 130º (the butter need not melt completely).
3. Gradually add milk mixture to the yeast mixture and blend until smooth.
4. Add eggs and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes, scrape bowl occasionally.
5. With a heavy duty mixer or wooden spoon, stir in enough remaining flour (about 2 cups) to form a soft dough.
6. Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and satiny, about 5 minutes (or use mixer's dough hook). Add flour as needed to prevent sticking.
7. Turn dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
8. Punch down dough and divide in half for 2 lambs; return one portion to the bowl, cover, and let stand at room temperature while you shape the first lamb.
9. Pinch off about ¼ of the dough portion and set aside for the head, legs, and tail.
10. On a lightly floured board, roll the remaining portion of dough into a 10 by 15-inch rectangle.
11. Brush evenly, using half the melted butter; sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
12. Starting with a wide edge, roll dough up jelly-roll fashion.
13. Moisten edge with water and pinch it against the roll to seal.
14. Cut roll into 20 slices about ¾-inch thick, with a sharp knife or loop a piece of thread around roll and pull together, which doesn't crush the rolls.
Cutting rolls
Cutting rolls
Forming head
Shaping head
Brushing lamb
Brushing with egg white
15. On a large greased baking sheet, arrange the slices side by side in 4 rows, as shown:
     4 slices in the top row;
     5 slices in the second;
     6 in the third;
     5 in the bottom row.
16. For the legs, tail, and ears, use about half the reserved dough. Roll it about ¼-inch thick and cut the pieces out with a sharp knife. Tuck the legs and tail under rolls as shown.
17. Gather together the remaining dough and form the head (about ½-inch thick, or you'll get too fat a head as I did), using scraps to shape the nose and eyes. Set eyes, ears, and nose in place as shown. Position the head next to the body as shown.
18. Cover lamb; let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 25 minutes.
19. Repeat procedure to shape second lamb.
20. Brush entire lamb lightly with the egg white mixture.
21. Bake in a 325º oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until nicely browned. If some parts begin to brown too quickly. cover them with pieces of foil.
22. Remove from oven and carefully loosen lamb from baking sheet by running a long spatula underneath; then gently slide bread off onto a rack. While still warm, drizzle lamb's body with the orange sugar icing (see below) and serve.
If made ahead, let bread cool completely (don't ice it) and wrap airtight. To reheat, place unwrapped bread on a baking sheet. Cover loosely with foil, heat in a 350º oven for about 10 minutes or until warm. Drizzle or brush with the icing glaze and serve. Makes 2 lambs.
Orange sugar glaze
Beat together until smooth:
     ½ cup unsifted powdered sugar
     1 tablespoon milk
     ¼ teaspoon orange or vanilla extract

An Easter cinnamon roll lamb also may be made with ready-prepared cinnamon rolls. I tried it with frozen cinnamon rolls and they made a very large bread and also require a loaf of frozen dough to make the head and other trims. The bread on the left was made with refrigerated Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls. It requires three rolls of eight (there will be four leftover) and a roll of Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations Seamless Dough Sheet to make the head, feet and tail. Open the dough sheet first so it can warm up before you need to shape it.

Recipe and black and white photos from "A Wooly lamb for Easter breakfast," Sunset, March 1978, pp. 102, 103.

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