We guarantee you’ll be cackling with delight as you roll and stretch bread dough into these shockingly realistic gnarled fingers, from the fungus-green almond-slice nails with bloody cuticles, to the pretzel-salt warts. Turn these into the centerpiece of a Halloween party and get your kids or your friends in on the action. Give prizes for the scariest and most realistic. Above all, let your freak flag fly high!
Makes 4 dozen fingers and 1 1/4 cups dip
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 2 1/2 hr
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 10 drops green food coloring
- 48 sliced almonds or peanut halves
- 8 drops red food coloring, diluted with 1/4 teaspoon water
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (egg wash)
- 1/2 tablespoon pretzel salt or coarse sea salt
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup coarse-grain Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or mild honey
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment and dough hook; 1 or 2 small paintbrushes
- Stir together water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until sugar is dissolved; let stand until yeast bubbles, about 5 minutes.
- Beat in 1 cup of flour on low speed until combined.
- Clean dough from paddle, then attach dough hook. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 1/2 cups flour to mixture and beat until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 3 minutes. (If dough is too sticky, add enough of 1/2 cup remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is no longer sticky.)
- Oil a large bowl and transfer dough to bowl, then turn dough over to coat it with oil. Cover bowl with a dry towel, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until it is double in size, about 1 hour.
- While dough is rising, place green food coloring in a small bowl, and using a paintbrush, paint one side of the almond slices or the rounded side of the peanut halves.
- Heat oven to 450°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Divide dough into quarters. Work with 1 piece at a time, and keep remaining dough covered.
- Roll one quarter into a 12-inch log, then cut it into 12 (1-inch) pieces.
- Dust work surface with additional flour, if necessary, to facilitate rolling. Roll and stretch each piece into a craggy 5-inch “finger.” Transfer fingers to baking sheets and let stand at warm room temperature, loosely covered with a smooth kitchen towel, until fingers are slightly puffed, 15 minutes.
- Pinch top of fingers to look like knuckles, then lightly score each knuckle with a sharp knife.
- Brush fingers with egg wash, then press on nails. With cleaned paintbrush, dab a little red color around the cuticles. Sprinkle fingers all over with pretzel or coarse sea salt.
- Bake fingers until deep golden, about 15 minutes (form more fingers while first batch is baking). Transfer to a rack to cool.
- Repeat forming and baking in batches with remaining dough.
- Whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, and maple syrup until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Witch’s Finger Bread Sticks are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be made 1 day ahead and kept, tightly wrapped, in a resealable plastic bag, or frozen 1 week. Remove from bag and rewarm on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven before eating.