Each December, the kitchen is stocked with a ridiculous amount of butter, flour, sugar and eggs and both the oven and freezer become my best friends for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Cookies are usually my treat of choice because they are both easy to transport and can be made into different shapes, sizes, and varieties. Don’t get me wrong, cookies are delicious and are always great for holiday parties, however, this year I wanted to make something different. A dessert that not only looks amazing, but tastes amazing, is a crowd-pleaser and is good for any time of the day, including brunch… presenting the gorgeous Cinnamon Star Bread – seems to check all of those boxes!
I’m a huge fan of sweet breads, in fact this Cinnamon Braid bread is one of my absolute favorite go-to recipes. I cannot tell you how much I love the smell of freshly baked bread, especially when there are notes of butter, caramelized sugar, and cinnamon… mmm deliciouss.
While brainstorming about potential Christmas desserts, I received an email from King Arthur Flour for a Bakealong challenge. They happened to be featuring the Cinnamon Star bread for the month of December and it couldn’t be more fitting for the holidays!
I took it as a sign and didn’t look back… a few hours later, I was left with this amazing (and impressive-looking) work of bread art that smelled like heaven! I found this recipe very similar to my Cinnamon Braid Bread, the only difference is how it is twisted and finished. Looks impressive eh?
Cinnamon Star Bread
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 cup lukewarm water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar (or just under if you don’t have a high sugar tolerance – my parents both found the original amount of sugar a little too sweet but we all found it fine)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- In the bowl of stand mixer, combine all dry ingredients: flour, potato flakes, milk powder, yeast, salt and sugar. Mix well.
- Measure out warm water and add into the flour mixture. Add in the vanilla and softened butter. Knead the dough until smooth (approximately 6-8 minutes). If the dough is too dry, add in warm water one tablespoon at a time (I had to add in a few tablespoons). The finished texture of the dough should be smooth and not sticky.
- Place in an oiled bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour or until about double in size
- Once risen, carefully punch dough down and divide into four equal pieces. Roll into four balls, cover and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. In the mean time, combine filling ingredients
- On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough ball out to about a 10″ circle and place on a piece of parchment paper. Brush on a light layer of beaten egg and then sprinkle about 3 tbsp of the cinnamon sugar filling all over, making sure to leave about 1/2″ around the edge of the circle. Repeat the layering of dough, egg, and filling two more times, and use the remainder of the filling on the third layer. The last layer has no filling on top and is left bare.
- Find a glass or measuring cup about 2-1/2″ in diameter and place it in the middle of the circle – this will be your guide (I used my 1/2 Cup measure). With a sharp knife, cut into 16 equal slices, stopping at the cup in the center. Pinch around the perimeter to seal all four layers of dough together.
- Option 1: Take two slices of dough and twist away from each other a total of two twists, then press one over top of the other to make a petal shape. Press the ends to secure and repeat for the rest of the slices. By the end, it should look like a beautiful star / flower shape
- Option 2: I made this again and twisted it 2 1/2 times and pinched the flat sides together, instead of over top of each other. I actually prefer this method better as it produces more of a clean edge appearance.
- Cover the bread and allow it to rise for another 45 minutes. It’ll appear more puffy
- While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Just before you pop your masterpiece into the oven, brush the remaining egg wash over the top of the bread to create a nice brown color when baked.
- Bake the bread for 12-15 minutes. I would suggest to bake it for 12 minutes, turn the tray around and look at the color of the bread.
- For the first version where I overlapped the bread, it tended to brown more around the outside of the loaf, but the middle was still fairly white at about 14 minutes, so I used pieces of aluminum foil to cover the outer petals while the middle continued to brown – worked perfectly!
- For the second option, I baked it for 12 minutes, turned the tray, baked for another 4 minutes and it turned out perfect and uniformly golden.
- Cool for 10 minutes and enjoy! According to King Arthur flour, you can also make this bread in up to a month in advance and freeze until ready to eat!
- Freezing: saran wrap the fully cooled and baked bread. Freeze up to 1 month. To serve: thaw at room temperature for a few hours, and reheat in oven until warm (I freeze mine with the original parchment paper still attached, so I just put it on a baking sheet and reheat at about 350 F for about 10 minutes or until it feels warm. Dust with icing sugar if desired.
Let me just say, this bread is a complete hands-down winner!!! … the bread itself is so light and fluffy, and paired between each fluffy layer is the perfect gooey lip-smacking cinnamon and sugar filling! Plus the fact that you can make this beauty up to a month in advance, freeze and reheat is a complete game changer! I love desserts that can be frozen and easily reheated, it really takes some stress out of holiday events, especially if you have a bunch scheduled together!
A beautiful bread like this one would be perfect to serve to your family and friends on Christmas morning. Make it ahead of time, freeze, reheat and serve Christmas morning… stress free!