Now, there's different methods of making bread sculptures:
Masapan is a technique that comes from a small town of Calderon in Equador, in which elaborate figurines are sculpted from bread dough. Because each family/artisan has their own recipe, it's difficult to pin down a specific recipe for the region as a whole, but today, many people will use a combination of crustless white bread with glue.
Salt Dough is a non-yeast dough that consists of high amounts of salt, flour, and water. This method is primarily used for sculpting plaques, ornaments, etc. It is comparable to clay, and once dried or baked, (or both), these sculptures can last indefinitely! (They can even be finished with shellac, and/ or painted.)
Yeast Dough (Standard Bread Dough) is the most common art form among most bread artisans/ pastry chefs. Virtually ANY dough can be used to create a sculpture or centerpiece! The choice of bread dough depends on the sculpture and it's use.
2 aluminum flat oven liners/ or large aluminum pizza pan (or chicken wire)
pliers (for manipulating aluminum or chicken wire)
baking spray or shortening
sheet tray/ silpat or parchment paper
Bread dough (can be made fresh, or purchase store bought frozen dough)
***I used enough dough to make 4 standard loaves!
water (in a cup to act as "glue")
flour for rolling dough
egg wash (1 beaten egg)
For the Cornucopia I created, I began by creating my form using 2 flat aluminum oven liners, but chicken wire would probably work best! I simply used pliers to manipulate the aluminum to form the shape of a cornucopia. Now, I made mine rather large, but you could easily make smaller ones using packaged cresent roll dough, and either waffle cones, or foil as your forms!
Because of the size, I ended up making 2 batches of standard white bread dough, and it took me about 1 1/2 hours to actually roll and braid all of the dough that you see wrapped around the form! (It would've taken me less if I would've made a double batch of bread from the beginning! Sometimes it's hard to gauge how much you will need until you are actually putting it together!) Before rolling out the dough, I made sure to spray the entire form with baking spray. I place the cornucopia straight up and down initially, because it was easier to wrap the dough all the way around the form. (However, I had to put it back on it's side before finishing because I had to make another batch of dough- and I needed to place it in my refrigerator to halt the proofing!)
Begin with braiding 3 ropes of dough first, to wrap around the outside edge. Then, just keep rolling out ropes of dough, and wrapping around the form until you get all the way to the tip. Use either some water or egg wash as "glue" to stick the ends together. If you have left over dough, you can either cut out decorative shapes and attach to the edge or outside, or you can make little "pumpkin" shaped rolls, etc. I brushed some egg wash on to the entire cornucopia prior to baking. Bake in a 350F oven for about 30min., or until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
With a sculpture of this shape and size, (and the fact that it had to be hollow), the form was not removable, so to cover up the foil pans on the inside, I simply placed a dinner napkin, and kind of tucked it around the outer edge where the foil pan was sticking out. Normally for other sculptures, you wouldn't need to worry about that! Anything can be displayed on the inside; breads/rolls, gourds, vegetables/fruits, flowers, etc. It really makes for a beautiful and impressive centerpiece for your holiday table or buffet! Since this will sit out, the bread won't be as soft, but you could still eat it if you chose to do so! Yes, since bread gets hard when it's left out, this will do the same, and you could also shellac, and store in a cool dry place for next year!
***For an idea of the steps I used, view the above pictures.