2 pounds frozen white bread dough, thawed, such as Bridgford Frozen White Ready Dough
2 tablespoons milk
1 large egg
2 dried cherries
About 24 slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
For the head: Cut off about a quarter (8 ounces) of the dough and form into a teardrop shape, pulling the narrower end out to form a long snout. Set aside.
For the eyes and legs: Cut off another quarter (8 ounces) of the dough. Divide the rest of this piece of dough into 2 logs each about 9-inches-long. Lay the logs crosswise in the middle of the prepared baking sheet with about 3-inches in between.
For the body and tail: Form an 11-inch-long log with the remaining dough (1 pound) with one end thicker than the other. Place the log on top of the legs (the dough for the legs should peek out from under the body). Pull the narrow end to a point and curve to the side to make a tail. Butt the head up against the thicker part of the body. Curve the legs forward slightly.
Spray the alligator with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until puffed, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Beat together the milk, egg and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Brush the dough all over with the egg wash. Cut two small slits in the face on either side and press in dried cherries for eyes.
With scissors, snip (without going all the way through) 4 small cuts in the front of the alligator's feet to make claws. Make 1-inch snips in horizontal rows all down the back of the alligator for scales. Press 2 toothpicks in the front of the snout (and leave them in during baking) to make the alligator's nostrils.
Bake until the alligator has risen and is golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. Remove the toothpicks.
While the alligator is still hot, use a serrated knife to slice open the head, crosswise, to make a mouth and gently pull it open. Insert slivered almonds in the top and bottom to make rows or jagged and crooked teeth. Insert a slivered almond in each nostril hole. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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