I was looking up some shaping ideas for my sausage buns on the internet to make with my daughter and I came across a bunny shaped one that was really cute. On our first attempt we didn’t make the ears long enough so the buns didn’t really look like bunnies to me. The shaping got improved later on when I tried making the ears longer and the legs slenderer. If I had rosemary or other herbs on hand, I would have stuck them on the tip of the sausage to make it more like a carrot.
I tried with both jumbo Frankfurters and regular sized wiener sausages and found the jumbo ones too chunky to shape. I like how juicy they are but my bunnies ended up being a bit distorted. The regular ones, on the other hand, make shaping an easy process. However, when cut in half, they are usually covered by the dough after the final rise. My trick is to cut the regular sized sausages in half at an angle to make them appear longer. While shaping the dough into ropes, your rope may keep shrinking on you. It is because the dough is not fully relaxed. If that is the case, don’t fight with them. Instead, cover them with a piece of plastic wrap to keep them from drying out and come back in 10 minutes (go make some coffee or something). Once relaxed, the dough will be much easier to work with. Another way is to elongate the dough in two stages. First, roll the dough one after one into half the desired length. Cover them, walk away for 10 minutes and then continue with the rest of the rolling. Hope that you find my tips helpful!
Hong Kong Style Bunny Sausage Buns (Sponge Method)
For the Sponge
210 g bread flour
2.1 g gold instant yeast or instant yeast
126 g water
For the Final Dough
All of the sponge
90 g all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
0.9 g gold instant yeast or instant yeast
35 g beaten egg
30 g milk
12 g whole milk powder
30 g granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
4.5 g salt
42 g unsalted butter, softened
20 g beaton egg (for egg wash)
Melted chocolate (for decoration) as needed
For the Sponge 中種麵團
Add flour and yeast into the mixing bowl and stir well. Add water and mix with the stand mixer with the dough hook on for about 4 minutes until a dough is formed. Transfer dough to a lightly greased mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes then refrigerate for 12 to 18 hours.
*For same-day use, let dough rise at room temperature until tripled in size, about 2 hours.
For the Final Dough 主麵團
Remove the sponge from the fridge. In the bowl of the stand mixer with the dough hook attached, combine the sponge and all ingredients of the main dough except the butter. Mix at low speed for about 3 minutes until the dough comes together. Raise speed to medium and knead for 3 minutes to form a smooth dough. Add in softened butter and continue kneading with low speed until all the butter is Incorporated, about 2 to 3 minutes. Raise speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 2 to 3 minutes. When a piece of dough is stretched, it will form a translucent membrane that would tear with uneven edges (maintain the final dough temperature at roughly 26℃/79℉ for best result). Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm environment (28℃/82℉) for 40 minutes.
Pat dry the wieners and cut each in half at a 45° angle to make them appear longer.
On a lightly floured surface, gently pat to flatten the dough then divide into 10 equal portions. Shape each into a smooth ball with seam side facing down and be careful not to tear the dough surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Take one dough and flatten it slightly by hand. With a rolling pin, roll dough into an oval then roll it up to form a log on the long side. Pinch the seam together and place it seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the dough pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
Beginning with the first log being rolled and following the order in which the dough pieces are rolled, roll each log into a long, even rope about 40 to 45 cm long. Arrange a rope into a ⊃ shape and fold the rounded end over as in the picture. Pick up the two loops, elongate them a bit then tuck in the sausage. Tighten the loops by gently pulling the two ends (the ears). Flip the dough over and pinch the two strips together to secure the dough in place. Flip it over and rearrange the dough so that the legs are slightly slenderer than the head and with a pair of super long ears. Transfer the shaped dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat the shaping for the rest of the dough. Let rise in a warm place for 45 to 60 minutes until puffy and almost doubled in size. I place the tray in the oven with temperature set to 32℃/90℉ and place a pot of hot water inside for added humidity
About 15 minutes before baking, take out the tray and let the dough pieces air dry for 10 minutes (the egg wash will adhere better to a slightly drier surface). In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃. Brush the dough surface with egg wash and bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the top is lightly golden. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool. Draw facial expressions with melted chocolate.
*Adjust oven temperature and baking time according to your own oven.
*Tent with aluminum foil about 2/3 of the way if the bread appears to brown too quickly.
This batch was made with Frankfurters. I haven’t perfected the shaping technique that time yet. The legs were a bit tubby and the ears were way too short.