1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
4 egg yolks
50g granulated white sugar
25g corn flour or custard powder
Sweetened Spiced Dough: Heat the milk until lukewarm (about 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius), add yeast with 1 tbsp brown sugar and stir to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.
Combine all the flour, sugar, spices and salt in the mixing bowl. Gradually add the foamy yeast mixture into the dry ingredients, together with the softened butter and lightly beaten egg.
Using the dough hook with slow speed, start beating until the dry ingredients are moistened before increasing to medium speed and knead until the dough is silky smooth and elastic.
Add more flour if the dough is slightly sticky.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl; turning the dough once to enable the top is lightly greased. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise until almost doubled in size (about 50 to 60 minutes).
When the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down to release the air, place the dough on a lightly floured surface.
Prepare to dress the bunnies, disposable piping bags, some roasted almond flaked, chocolate chips, melted white chocolate / royal icing, chocolate smarties or any nice coloured candies.
Prepare pastry cream filling for bunny buns.
Pastry Cream: In a bowl, combine the eggs and sugar. Whisk to incorporate. Add in the corn flour and continue to mix till you get a smooth paste.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk and vanilla bean just to boiling (just until milk starts to foam up.)
Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.)
Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture. (The vanilla bean can be washed and dried and placed in your sugar bowl to give the sugar a vanilla flavor.)
Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 to 60 seconds until it becomes thick. Remove from heat. (Stir in vanilla extract if using instead of a vanilla bean.) For lighter pastry cream fold in 1/2 cup (120 ml) softly whipped cream to cooled pastry cream. For Chocolate pastry cream add 80g or to taste of melted dark / milk chocolate to the hot pastry cream. Stir until well incorporated and keep chill before piping into the buns.
Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Whisk or stir before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
To shape the bunnies: Divide the dough equally into 12 pieces. Instead of round, try shaping each into a smooth oval.
Make one side of the oval shaped dough slightly thinner for the head.
Using a pair of sharp pointed scissor, make two deep cuts on the top of the dough to form ears.