Elephant Bread and Bread for Elephants

It wasn't so very long ago that I publicly proclaimed my love for Betty White and her lifelong work with animal rescue efforts. Shortly after that interview I received an email from Grandma's Molasses, and to my surprise they were not asking me to promote their product per se, but a worthy cause. Grandma's Molasses supports The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee by donating a hefty amount of their product yearly. It is used to entice the elephants to take their medicines by concealing the tastes with molasses. (Elephants LOVE molasses. Who knew?!)  After reading The Elephant Sanctuary's mission statement, I immediately wanted to help the effort. 

"The Elephant Sanctuary exists for two reasons:
  • To provide a haven for old, sick or needy elephants in a setting of green pastures,
    dense forests, spring-fed ponds and heated barns for cold winter nights.
  • To provide education about the crisis facing these social, sensitive, passionately intense,
    playful, complex, exceedingly intelligent and endangered creatures."

The awful truth: many of these animals have faced physical abuse, torture, and forced incarceration prior to their forever home at the sanctuary. And just like people, some elephants suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Elephant Sanctuary does an important job of rehabilitation and creates a safe place for these animals to roam free, but they need resources! As you can imagine it is very expensive to provide food and shelter to their 14 resident elephants - $133,000 a year for just one elephant!

The awesome part: you can help! Visit ElephantsLoveGrandmas.com to “adopt” an elephant! With each donation of $10 or more comes a certificate of “adoption,” a subscription to The Elephant Sanctuary’s Trunklines newsletter, a coupon for a free jar of Grandma’s Molasses, and a recipe card for Grandma’s Elephant Bread (a recipe developed by me!). With each donation of $30 or more comes all of this, plus photos and bio information about the “adopted” elephant.

Anyone who may doubt the intelligence or emotional connectivity of these animals should watch the video below. It captures the beautiful -albeit strange- relationship between the sanctuary's own Tarra the elephant and her canine companion of many years. 

Now, I've been given full permission by the folks at Grandma's to share the recipe, but please don't let that deter your donation. Give a little bread to the elephants.

You can keep up-to-date with all the happenings via Grandma's Molasses Facebook and Twitter.

Elephant Bread
This is a deliciously sweet pastry with ground pecans, brown sugar and generous smothering of molasses glaze. The technique for shaping this bread is easy, and when cut and unfolded it reminds me of two elephant ears. 

Sweet dough recipe adapted from Taste of Home's "Baking Book".     
Yield: 2 coffee cakes, 12 servings [click for printable recipe]

Sweet Dough:
2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast
¼ cup water, 110-115 degrees F
1 cup whole milk, 110-115 degrees F
¾ cup butter melted and slightly cooled, divided
2 eggs room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon-Nut Filling:
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup finely ground pecans
1 tbsp. cinnamon

Molasses Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. Grandma’s molasses
2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. whole milk

  1. Place yeast and warm water in a large mixing bowl; stir briefly to combine.  Add warm milk, ½ cup melted butter, eggs, sugar, salt and 2 cups of flour.  Stir until a sticky dough forms.  Add extra flour a little at a time until a soft dough forms (you may not have to use all the flour).  Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and with a timer set, knead for 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Place dough in a greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 ½ hours).

  1. Gently punch down dough and let stand for 10 minutes.  Divide dough in half, and place on a well-floured surface.  Roll each piece of dough into a 10x15-inch rectangle. Coat the rolled pastries with the remaining butter using a pastry brush.  

  1. Place filling ingredients in a small bowl and stir together. Sprinkle mixture over buttered pastries.  Roll them up, jelly roll style, starting with a long side.  Pinch together the seams to seal in the filling.
  2. Place each rolled pastry on a baking sheet, seam-side up and fold in half so that the seams are touching and half the dough is resting on top of the other half.  Cut folded pastries with a pair of clean kitchen scissors lengthwise and down the middle within 1.5 inches of the open ends.  Open cut pastry and lay flat so it resembles a heart shape (or two elephant ears).  Cover pastries with plastic wrap and allow them rise in a warm area for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove pastries from oven and allow them to cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together molasses and room temperature butter; add confectioners’ sugar and milk.  Stir well.  Mixture should be thin enough to drizzle. If mixture is too thick add additional milk 1 tsp. at a time.  Generously drizzle glaze over pastries and serve.

*No monetary compensation was provided for this blog post. 
link Elephant Bread and Bread for Elephants By Published: Elephant Bread and Bread for Elephants Recipe


  1. A marvelous bread! I love its shape and the ingredients you've used for the glaze.

    A great project too.



  2. Thank you for this post and the information. I had no idea this company was that generous to the cause of elephant welfare. I also was unaware of the sanctuary and its compassionate work. I would love to live to see the day where elephants are no longer exploited and there is no need for a place like this!

  3. This is simply beautiful, and I LOVE ELEPHANTS!! They seriously rock my world!!

  4. So fun that the Elephant Ears look like hearts, too. What a beautiful reason to bake! Hooray, Heather! Way to draw some sweet attention to a great cause!

  5. Jon David would LOVE to "adopt" an elephant with me!!

    And this bread. Seriously?! Get out of town with your amazingness.

  6. This looks delicious and cute. I always enjoying reading your blog.

  7. Hola! qué tal? Acabo de descubrir tu blog, le he estado echando un vistazo y me ha gustado mucho, volveré a visitarlo más a menudo, te mando un abrazote!

  8. Love this cause!!! And wow - that bread looks amazing! :)

  9. Un pane meraviglioso e meravigliosi sono gli elefanti.
    Ciao, Mother.

  10. I grew up right outside of the elephant sanctuary. One of my friends actually worked there in high school. They are so amazing!

  11. What a great idea with the Elephants and what an amazing cake!

  12. Wonderful! I love posts like this--the kind that really show what food blogging is all about. It's not all butter and sugar. We're in it for love, compassion, and caring--be it for each other or Mother Nature's other creatures.

  13. Great Cause! Did you notice your dough looks like an elephant trunk? Funny.

  14. A great cause indeed.
    those breads look absolutely delicious!!

  15. Woah, momma! Now that's what I call bread!

    It's great that you can help a worthy cause through your blogging!

  16. Thank you for doing this post today. I received it right after reading a NY Times article that poaching in Africa has increased recently as more are demanding the ivory from elephant tusks. The article made me so sad, as these animals are so beautiful and intelligent. But this post gives me hope -Thanks again for sharing.

    p.s. - the recipe looks awesome!

  17. I saw this video a while back ago, and it really touched my heart. I'm heading over to make a donation to this VERY worth cause. I'm making it in memory of my beloved horse, whom I still grieve over and it's only been two years. She was a dear friend to me. Thanks for doing this, Heather. Oh, and the bread... saving this for a cold winter day, when I most love baking with yeast.

  18. Your elephant ears look so fun and delicious! I need to pin your recipe! We gave a gift of "adoption" of an orphaned baby elephant to a friend of ours through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I love elephants! They are such sweet animals:) I am definitely going to adopt one through your link.

  19. A truly inspiring story! No one can deny animals have feelings and emotions!

  20. The emotional lives of elephants are something I've read a great deal about and have had the good fortune to experience personally with visits to sanctuaries in Laos and Thailand and interaction in other parts of the world like Cambodia. I have also followed this USA preserve's efforts for years but had no idea about the Grandma molasses connection. Not only am I going to stock up but his will be the only brand I buy from now on! Gorgeous bread! Adopting an elephant is officially on my to do list. What a beautiful and meaningful post. Bravo Heather.

  21. This is such an amazing thing you are doing. It's the worst thing to hear about animal abuse, and elephants are such gentle creatures too. This really is a wonderful thing.

    The bread also looks amazing. I haven't made yeast bread in a long long time.

  22. Thanks for sharing all that, Heather. This elephant bread looks amazing!

  23. That was such a heartwarming video and I love it that you created the recipe for the bread! I had no idea about the sanctuary being in TN, thanks for sharing information about this most worthy cause with us Heather! xo ~Lili

  24. Thanks so much for sharing about the Elephant's Sanctuary and I had no idea Grandma's Molasses was involved - I may have to change which molasses I use for bread making... And thanks for sharing this elephant bread - it looks amazing and my mouth is watering! I'm featuring this post in today's Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution as always). Thank you so much for keeping me inspired with such delicious creations...

  25. What a fantastic story! Thank you for sharing :)

  26. What a fantastic charity! I've always loved elephants for their gentleness and amazing intelligence--they're beautiful creatures and it's sad that they may have been in any kind of abusive situation (same goes for any animal, for that matter). What a wonderful cause and a delicious-looking bread to boot!

  27. I love your blog, your recipes and even more your love and support of animals. I am a huge animal advocate and I love elephants. Just when I thought I couldn't love you more! Awesome idea and charity. Can't wait to make this!

  28. Hi! Made this "bread" today - easy and delicious. Next time I'll double the filling and use rapid rise yeast. I used 4 cups of flour until a dough formed. Result was still amazing. Have had this recipe on my Pinterest and printed for 6 years! Finally made it.


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