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Fun Food: Big Bunnies

Here's a fun recipe perfect for Easter or Spring celebrations. Its more complicated than most of the Fun Food recipes, but worth the time. You could easily turn this into a science lesson by researching why yeast makes bread rise.

Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (5 1/2 to 6 cups)
1/3 cup sugar
2 packages Fleischmann's Active Dry or Rapid Rise Yeast
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 8-ounce package chopped dates or pitted dates, snipped

CONFECTIONERS' SUGAR FROSTING
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

1. In large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, cinnamon, salt, allspice and nutmeg. Heat milk, water and butter until very warm (120 to 130F). Gradually add to dry ingredients; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. With spoon, stir in enough additional flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top; cover. Let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. (With Rapid Rise Yeast, cover kneaded dough. Let rest on floured surface 10 minutes. Proceed with recipe.)

2. Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Set aside a few pieces of dates for eye and mouth; knead in remaining dates. Divide dough into 2 pieces (one for each bunny).

3. For each bunny: Halve dough; form 1 half into ball for body. Place on bottom end of greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Remove 1/3 of remaining half; form into ball. Place on baking sheet above and slightly touching large ball. Flatten slightly. Remove 1/2-inch ball from remaining dough and place on head for nose. Divide remaining dough into 4 equal pieces; roll to 4-inch ropes. Place 2 ropes on body and fold across stomach for arms. Shape remaining ropes into ears; place above head and fold one in half. Repeat for second bunny. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

4. Bake at 375F for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Switch positions of sheets halfway through baking for even browning. Remove from sheets and cool on wire racks. Brush with Confectioners' Sugar Frosting while warm and add date pieces for eyes and mouths.

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To Make Confectioners' Sugar Frosting

Stir together 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat until smooth.

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