The kids will love these mini bread loaves complete with little mice. And they’re handy for freezing, too
- 500g (1lb) strong plain white flour
- 60g (2oz) butter
- 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
- 1 level tbsp caster sugar
- 1 level tsp salt
- 150ml (¼ pint) warm milk
- Black peppercorns, optional
- Beaten egg, for glaze
Tip the flour into a bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the yeast, sugar and salt. Pour in the warm milk and 150ml (¼ pint) warm water, and mix to form a soft dough.
Knead the dough for 5 – 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Keep dough in a freezer bag when it’s not being used, so that it doesn’t start to dry out.
To make each wheatsheaf: Take a piece of dough and break off about a quarter, then shape it into a rectangle which is tapered at one end. Place this piece on the baking sheet and use a small knife to cut parallel lines into the dough, cutting almost all the way through it for the stalks. Break off about a quarter of the remaining dough for a rope, and save a small piece if making a mouse.
Shape the remaining dough into a flat, round shape. Brush a little water over the narrow end of the stalks and place the round on top, overlapping the pieces slightly. Use the tips of a pair of scissors to snip the round piece of dough to create the ears of corn.
Divide the dough for the rope into 2 pieces, and roll each out into long, sausage shapes; twist them together to create the rope. Brush a little water over the area where the round piece joins the base and wrap the rope around, tucking the ends underneath.
To make the mouse: Break off a small piece and roll it into a long, sausage shape for the tail. Break off two-thirds of the remaining piece and shape it into a cone shape for the body. Finally, use the last piece to make a cone for the head, and flatten two ears. Brush water on to the mini loaf and stick on the tail and then the body. Brush water on to the head and stick it in place. Press 2 peppercorns into the head for eyes. Repeat to make 12 mini mice loaves in total.
Set the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7. Cover the baking tray with a sheet of oiled cling film and leave it in a warm place until the loaves have doubled in size.
Brush the mini loaves with beaten egg, then bake them in the centre of the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until they’re a golden colour and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Remove the loaves from the oven and slide them on to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cold, with butter.
Wrap the cold loaves in a freezer bag, seal and label, then freeze for up to 3 months. Allow them to defrost, then warm through in a hot oven for a few minutes to refresh them before serving.