Recipe: How To Turn Easter's Hot-Crossed Buns Into Bunnies

Don't all girls have it? A strange fixation on Easter baking and furry ears? Well, hop to it—with help from our food columnist, Leanne Shapton

Photos by Leanne Shapton

Buns vs Bunnies; Photos by Leanne Shapton

I have a thing for bunnies. I can’t remember when I started collecting them—it might have begun with a ceramic box I found in Portobello Market in 2005, and continued from there. Since then I’ve accumulated all sorts of little inanimate companions, and I live with one (my dog’s name is bunny). As you imagine, Easter, with its abundance of edible rabbits and bunnies in effigy, is a favourite holiday of mine.

Beatrix Potter, age 25, with pet rabbit

Beatrix Potter, age 25, with pet rabbit

Sartorially, there is no shortage of bunny-wear for the non-Playmate. Accessories designer Katie Hillier is notorious for her affection for leporids. Her Snowball Hair and Dotty In Love collections of barrettes, bands and ponytail holders are a pop alternative to her adorable Bunny Love collection of solid-gold rabbit pendants, bracelets, studs and rings. Maison Michel bunny ears have been spotted sprouting from the heads of It girls for the last few seasons (delicate, lacier versions of the large ribbon set Marc Jacobs sent down the runway in his Louis Vuitton Fall 2009 collec

Comme des Garçons 2013 Runway; Photo by Getty Images

Comme des Garçons 2013 Runway; Photo by Getty Images

tion). Also, for jackrabbits: Tall, leather bunny ears were worn by models in the Comme des Garçons Fall 2013 men’s collection.


Real bunnies are also getting attention. Earlier this year the ASPCA grants council pledged $25,000 to the Save A Bunny shelter organization, helping rabbits who might be euthanized. Two of my friends have recently bought bunnies as pets for their children, setting up hutches and feeding them table scraps, while another shares custody of hers with her boyfriend.

Unfortunately, while chocolate versions and sugary eggs abound, the best Easter fare—braided breads, buns and lenten dishes—remain un-bunnified. The solution? Online I found instructions on turning buns to bunnies. The transformation might subvert the crucifixion symbolism, but the delicous raisin, spice and peel flavours remain forgivingly the same. And anyway, my favourite rabbit, Peter, was drawn to adventure over redemption.

Bunny Ears Photo Courtesy of Shona Heath and Showstudio, London; Ruth Van Beek Book and Print Courtesy of Ruth Van Beek

Bunny Ears Photo Courtesy of Shona Heath and Showstudio, London; Ruth Van Beek Book and Print Courtesy of Ruth Van Beek

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 9.36.10 AM

Bake It To Make It! Crossover Appeal

This year I adapted a Leanne Kitchen hot cross buns recipe. The New Zealander’s 2008 cookbook The Baker has become a constant (stained, Post-It Note-frilled) companion.

  • 4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup candied peel


  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar


  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
I made my own candied peel—it's easy! Photo by Leanne Shapton

I made my own candied peel—it’s easy! Photo by Leanne Shapton

1. Pour yeast into a small bowl and mix with 1/2 cup warm water and a pinch of sugar, leave until foamy.

2. Mix together flour, spices and salt. Put milk, butter, sugar, eggs and 1 cup of dry mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, mix for 1 minute, add raisins and peel.

3. Add remaining dry mixture, 1 cup at a time. Turn out onto floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until dough is smooth. Place in oiled bowl and let rise for 2 hours.

Photo by Leanne Shapton

Photo by Leanne Shapton

4. Knock back dough, pull into balls, roll into sausages and divide at one end to make ears. (See justhungry.com/hot-cross-bunny-buns)

5. Shape into heads. Set on greased baking sheet, cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Prepare glaze by bringing sugar and water to a slow boil. Set aside.

For whiskers, mix flour, powdered sugar and water to make a soft dough, roll out and cut whiskers. Add raisins for eyes.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden-brown, remove from oven and brush with sugar glaze. Cool.