SERVINGS: MAKES 1 LOAF
- 1 ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 Cups General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch (ground thin)
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon anise seeds
- 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon orange-flower water
- ¾ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus 6 tablespoons melted, divided
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Mix yeast, ⅓ cup flour, and ¼ cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer with a wooden spoon or spatula until sticky dough forms. This is your starter. Let rest, uncovered, in a warm, draft-free area until starter looks very loose, and bubbles are forming on top (it will resemble pancake batter on a griddle), about 35 minutes.
Whisk eggs, anise, salt, orange-flower water, and ¾ cup sugar in a medium bowl until foamy and sugar begins to dissolve, about 1 minute. Add egg mixture and remaining 31/2 cups flour to starter as well as the 2 cups of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and mix with a dough hook on medium-low speed, adding ¾ cup softened butter a few pieces at a time, until soft dough forms, about 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium and continue mixing until sugar is dissolved and dough is shiny and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be very sticky).
Lightly brush a large bowl with 2 Tbsp. Melted butter. Transfer dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until almost doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper; coat parchment with nonstick spray. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface, then cut off a baseball-sized piece of dough (about one-quarter of the dough). Using your hands, reshape the larger piece into a smooth round ball and transfer to the center of a prepared sheet. Roll smaller piece into an 8″-long log, then divide into four equal lengths. Shape one of those lengths into a ball and place on second prepared sheet 3″ from the edge.
Roll another length of dough with the palm of your hand into an 8½”-long rope, pressing out from the center so the middle is thinner and both ends are knobby, resembling a bone. Place on the prepared sheet a few inches away from the smaller ball. Repeat with remaining two pieces of dough, transferring to sheet as you go. Brush all five pieces of dough with 2 Tbsp. Melted butter and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until almost doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
Preheat oven to 325°. Remove plastic wrap and carefully pick up one of the bones, lifting from the ends (it will stretch and deflate slightly). Drape over large dough round, positioning at 10 o’clock and 4 o’clock. Repeat with a second bone, positioning at 2 o’clock and 8 o’clock. Position third bone at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock. Carefully place a smaller ball in the center, at a point where bones overlap, gently pressing edges of the ball into bones and larger ball, crowning the loaf.
Bake bread until browned and it sounds hollow when tapped with your fingertips, 40–50 minutes. Working in sections, brush one-quarter of the loaf with melted butter and immediately sprinkle with sugar so that it sticks. Repeat with remaining sections and butter. Let cool on a wire rack at least 1 hour before slicing.
Do Ahead: Dough rounds and bones can be formed one day ahead; cover tightly and chill. Let rise until doubled in size before baking, 2½–3½ hours. Bread can be made three days ahead; let cool completely before storing and keep tightly wrapped at room temperature.