This soft and buttery Christmas bread is a seriously impressive treat, and can be filled with a wide range of sweet and savory spreads. It’s also shockingly easy to achieve the star shape! Read on for detailed photos, step by step instructions, and different filling ideas.
This Christmas star bread is almost too pretty to eat! …….. almost.
I’d never pass up on soft, buttery, and fluffy homemade bread. Although I gotta say it does hurt my heart a bit to tear into the beautiful star shape.
But my consolation is in the fact that the star shape is outrageously easy to create! More on shaping below.
Couple that with a soft and buttery bread, and unlimited filling potential, and you’ve got a serious winner.
Star bread ingredients:
• water: a tiny bit to dissolve the yeast and sugar in
• yeast: you can use either active dry or instant yeast. The method is the exact same, but active dry yeast may take slightly longer to rise
• sugar: some granulated sugar for the dough and some brown sugar for the filling
• egg: for the dough
• milk: for an extra fluffy and rich bread!
• flour: for the dough and for when you’re shaping the star
• salt: to balance the sweetness
• butter: melted for the dough and softened for the filling
• cinnamon: for the filling
How to make + shape star bread:
1. Proof yeast. Whisk together water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes, or until foamy.
2. Combine wet ingredients. Add the egg and milk to the yeast mixture. Whisk to combine.
3. Add dry ingredients. Add flour and salt to the wet ingredients. Mix until you get a rough shaggy dough.
4. Pour in butter & knead. Add the melted butter to the shaggy dough, and knead until smooth.
5. Rise. Cover and set the dough aside until about doubled in size.
6. Make the filling. Mash together butter, sugar, and cinnamon until you get a smooth paste.
7. Shape the star: Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion out into a rough circle that’s about 1/4 inch thick.
Lay one circle down on a parchment lined baking sheet, and brush 1/3 of the filling over the dough.
** Do as I say, not as I do (I completely forgot to assemble my bread on parchment paper (as per usual…) so it was a nightmare to transfer!) **
Top with a second rolled out portion of dough.
Spread another 1/3 of the filling on top. Lay on the third portion of dough, and spread over the remaining filling. Finally, top with your final piece of dough.
Trim off the edges to make a relatively round circle (it doesn’t have to be perfect!) Place a small bowl over the center of your dough (the fourth picture above).
Cut 16 strips going from the edge of the bowl to the outside of the dough circle (pictured below).
Take two strips of dough and twist inwards towards each other. So turn the strip on the left clockwise and the strip on the right counterclockwise (pictured below). Pinch the two strips together, and repeat until all of the strips are paired up and twisted.
8. Rest the star. Cover and rest for 10 minutes, or until your oven is preheated. Don’t let it rest for too long, or it’ll loose its shape!
9. Bake! Your bread should be puffed and golden brown on top. Cool slightly before serving!
You can fill your star bread with whatever you like! Here are a few ideas for you:
• chocolate chips
• garlic butter
1. Skip the second rise. Doughs that are similar to this bread recipe are usually set aside twice to double in size (once after kneading, and once after shaping – for example, dinner rolls!)
The reason we don’t proof this bread a second time is because it very easily loses its shape. After shaping your star, all you need is a 10 minute rest and you’re good to bake!
2. Shape the bread on parchment paper. Okay, I’m guilty of forgetting this step 98.7% of the times I’ve made this recipe. You can even see in the pictures in this post, I forgot to do this lol
Now it’s not the end of the world – I still got my bread onto my baking sheet, so yay! But it’s a serious pain to transfer the shaped star by hand. Shaping it on your parchment lined baking sheet means you don’t need to deal with transferring.
3. Make the dough ahead. You can make this dough up to 2 days in advance, and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it (a real help around the holidays!) Right after kneading the dough, place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in the fridge right away so you slow down the rise as quickly as possible. Use within 2 days!
* Note: if you are baking with cold dough, you may need to give the shaped star a 20 to 30 minute rest on your counter before baking to allow it to come to room temperature. Keep an eye out to make sure it doesn’t puff up too much (it’ll continue to puff when it bakes)
Star bread storage:
This bread is best served fresh, as with any homemade yeast bread. It will keep for up to 3 days at room temperature, or up to 3 months in the freezer. Keep the bread stored in an airtight container or plastic bag to maintain maximum freshness!
If you freeze your bread, set it out at room temperature for a few hours or in the fridge overnight to defrost. I’d also recommend warming the bread for 5 to 10 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven to freshen it up again!
Check out these other Christmas recipes!
Star Bread Recipe
For the star bread dough:
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water, between 105°F and 110°F
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 & 1/4 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast * see notes
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup lukewarm milk, between 105°F and 110°F
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and shaping
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
For the cinnamon sugar filling:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark brown
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Make the dough: In a large bowl, combine water, sugar, and yeast, and mix to combine. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture is foamy on the surface.
- Add the egg and milk to the yeast mixture, and whisk to combine. Add the flour and salt, and mix together until you start to get a rough, shaggy dough forming.
- Add your melted butter to the shaggy dough, and knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes with an electric mixer fitted with the dough attachment).
- Place your dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and toss it around to coat all the sides with oil. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until nearly doubled in size.
- Make the filling: In a medium sized bowl, combine softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix and mash together until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside,
- Shaping (see post above for step by step photos): Turn your risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a rough circle that's about a 1/4 inch thick.
- Place one dough circle onto your parchment lined baking sheet. Spread 1/3 of the filling over the dough. Top with another circle of dough, and brush on another 1/3 of the filling. Top with a third piece of dough, followed by the remaining filling. Finally, lay over the fourth circle of dough.
- Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to trim off the edges to even out the circle. It doesn't have to be perfect! Place a 3 inch round bowl over the center of the dough. Cut 16 even strips going from the edge of the dough to the edge of the bowl in the center.
- Take 2 strips of dough with each hand and twist inwards towards each other. Pinch the tips together to seal, and repeat until all of the strips are twisted and paired up. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 10 minutes while your oven preheats.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Bake the star bread in the center of your preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Cool slightly before serving. (Optional) dust with powdered sugar once cooled completely.