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Spider Bread

Large tray with sides
4 loaves (1 pound each) frozen bread dough, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup black sesame seeds (or poppy seeds)
Small cookies and candy for the face
Peanut butter for glue

Prepare the baking tray. Spritz a 14-by-17-inch baking sheet with sides with baking spray. The spider is going to spread its legs lengthwise, facing crosswise on the tray. Use your finger to trace the pattern of the spider on the greased tray, just as if you were finger painting. Trace a circle about 3 inches in diameter for the spider's head. Behind it, trace a circle about 51/2 inches in diameter for the body. Trace eight legs, curved, about 8-inches long and about 2 inches apart. One pair of legs will be under the head, one pair at the neck and another two pairs under the body close to the neck.

The legs: On a floured board, divide one loaf into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch worm. Place the legs, 4 on a side, on the baking sheet: one pair at the widest part of the head, one pair near the neck, one pair at the neck end of the body, one pair at the widest part of the body. The legs will be tucked about 1 inch under the body. Put a roll of wadded metal foil under the spider's "knees," so they bend and he looks like he's crawling. Space the outside ends of the legs about 2 inches apart, and curve them realistically.

The head: Divide one loaf in half. Knead it to make a smooth ball. Flatten it with your palm and place it on the traced pattern on the inner ends of 2 pairs of legs. Flatten it gently so that the head is about 31/2 inches in diameter and securely on top of two pairs of legs.

The body: Knead together the half loaf with a whole loaf. Form into a smooth ball. Flatten it slightly with your palm and set it on the traced pattern on the inner ends of the remaining 2 pairs of legs. Flatten it slightly, so that the body is about 51/2 inches in diameter and securely on top of two pairs of legs. The head and body should be touching.

Finishing: Brush spider with beaten egg, making sure the head-body seam is well covered. Sprinkle all over with seeds. Allow to rise uncovered for about 20 to 30 minutes or until puffy. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until golden brown beneath the seeds, about 40 to 45 minutes. Some seeds will fall off, but that's OK. Let the spider rest for a few minutes, then very carefully transfer him to a rack set over newspapers to catch seeds. When cool, place him in a platter or tray with sides.

Decorating: Use peanut butter to glue on eyes, nose and mouth made from cookies and candy. If you don't want to eat your artwork, make him a week ahead and use as a centerpiece.

The other loaf: A pound of bread dough will remain. Use it to make sandwich buns. Divide it into 6 sections, form into balls and place on a greased baking tray. Leave plain, or brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Flatten slightly and allow to rise until puffy. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 20 minutes or until puffed and brown.

-- Adapted from Sunset Magazine

Originally published on Thursday, October 22, 1998

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