How to Make Star Bread

Here is my tested recipe and video tutorial teaching you how to make star bread. This beautiful holiday brunch recipe is surprisingly easy and impresses everyone!

star bread with a hand pulling a section apart

One of the best parts of my summer was visiting Kansas with several other baking bloggers. It was the best experience! We toured wheat farms with Kansas Wheat and baked with Red Star Yeast, one of my beloved partners. There I learned how to make star bread from master bread baker Zoe Bakes; it is one of the most stunning bread creations. Truly a piece of art. Carb art.

cinnamon sugar star bread with hand pulling apart a piece

Star Bread Video Tutorial

I’ve always admired this beautiful bread, but was intimidated to try it. It’s so intricate and looks impossible, right? Had I never watched the process, I would’ve NEVER known how EASY it is!! And today I’m showing you how to recreate this masterpiece in a few simple steps.

Basically… if you know how to use a knife or pizza cutter, you know how to make star bread.

Star bread dough rolled into a circle on a piece of parchment paper

How to Make Star Bread in 4 Steps

  1. Make a simple 7 ingredient dough and let it rise for 90 minutes. We’re using the same dough from Everything Bagel Pull Apart Bread, but adding a little more sugar and butter since this is meant to be sweet. It’s a small-batch dough recipe, perfect for our star bread. After the dough rises for 90 minutes, punch it down to release the air bubbles. (Watch me do this in the video above.)
  2. Roll out the star bread. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each out into a rough 10-inch circle. Stack them on top of each other with your filling between each. There will be 4 layers of dough and 3 layers of filling.
  3. Shape the star bread. As you saw in the video, this isn’t tricky! Cut any scraps around the edges so you have an even circle. Place a 3 inch round object or bowl in the center to make an indent. This is the center of the star. Using a pizza cutter, cut 16 even strips. Grab two strips and twist them away from each other, then press the two ends together. Your star bread will have 8 points.
  4. Let it rest for 20 minutes, then bake. Cover the shaped bread and let it rest for 20 minutes before brushing with egg wash and baking. Egg wash promises a beautifully shiny and golden star bread!

2 images of star bread with slits cut and brushing egg wash onto assembled star bread before baking

cinnamon sugar star bread

This is a SHORTCUT Bread Recipe

We’re cutting down the rise time, which makes this star bread process even quicker. Shaped breads like pull apart bread or cinnamon rolls, typically require 2 rises. A 1st rise for the dough, then a 2nd rise after the dough is shaped. I found this to be problematic with star bread. The 2nd rise gave the dough too much time to puff up, causing the bread to lose its lovely shape when baked.

Instead, just cover the shaped star bread and let it rest for about 20 minutes before baking. That’s it! Just 20 minutes, the perfect amount of time to clean up and preheat the oven.

  • This significantly cuts down on our prep time. Yay!
  • Promises the bread holds its shape!

cinnamon sugar star bread with confectioners' sugar topping

Star Bread Fillings!

Pictured today is a Nutella star bread and cinnamon sugar star bread. There’s many options when it comes to fillings, but the most important thing to remember is to top each layer lightly. If you go too heavy on the filling, it will spill out everywhere.

  1. cinnamon sugar
  2. nutella
  3. your favorite jam
  4. butter + brown sugar + crystallized ginger (this is how we made it in Kansas!)
  5. apple butter or pumpkin butter
  6. chai spice
  7. butter + cinnamon sugar + walnuts + dates
  8. cinnamon sugar + orange zest + fresh or dried cranberries
  9. savory such as pesto, tomato sauce, cheese, herbs, etc

*Make sure any chunks are very finely chopped.

Isn’t the Nutella star bread pretty? Reminds me of Nutella babka, but easier to shape. Obviously the Nutella variation was very good, but the cinnamon sugar star bread was pure comfort food. Paired with a buttery soft dough, you can’t go wrong with any filling.

Nutella star bread

Nutella star bread on a cream plate

A dusting of confectioners’ sugar completes the star. Looks like a snowflake, doesn’t it? You could also drizzle some vanilla icing on top, raspberry twist bread style.

Be the *star* of your holiday get togethers with this easy star bread recipe!

(So corny, I couldn’t help myself.)

zoomed in image of star bread

Make Ahead Options

  • Refrigerate dough for up to 1-2 days. Prepare bread dough through step 3 below. After it has risen, punch the dough down to release the air bubbles. Cover the dough tightly, then place it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When ready, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Punch the dough down again to release any air bubbles. Then, continue with step 5 below.
  • Freeze dough for up to 3 months. Prepare bread dough through step 3 below. After it has risen, punch the dough down to release the air bubbles. Cover the dough tightly, then place it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready, thaw the bread overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Punch the dough down again to release any air bubbles. Then, continue with step 5 below.
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cinnamon sugar star bread with hand pulling apart a piece

Star Bread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Watch the video tutorial (above) before beginning so you can easily shape this star bread masterpiece. What I love most about this homemade bread recipe, besides its ability to impress EVERYONE, is that the rise times have been reduced. If the bread rises for too long, it could lose its shape. I love a shortcut recipe!


Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast*
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (60gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 and 1/3 cups (291g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • filling (see recipe note)
  • egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk
  • 2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Place the yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Or, if you do not own a stand mixer, a regular large mixing bowl. Heat the milk on the stove or in the microwave until warm to touch, about 110°F (43°C). Pour warm milk on top of yeast/sugar. Whisk gently to combine, then loosely cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. The mixture will be frothy after 5-10 minutes.
  2. If you do not have a mixer, you can mix by hand in this step. Add the butter, egg, flour, and salt. Beat on low speed for 3 minutes. Dough will be soft. Using lightly floured hands, form it into a ball. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add 1-3 more Tablespoons of flour, but you want a very soft dough.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl (nonstick spray is fine) and cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place in a slightly warm environment to rise until doubled in size, around 60-90 minutes. For this warm spot, I suggest using the oven. Preheat to 150°F, then turn the oven off after preheating. Place the covered bowl inside and shut the oven door. This is your warm environment.
  4. Prepare filling: Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and prepare your star bread filling. See all my options in the recipe notes below.
  5. Assemble the bread: Watch the video above to guide you through this step. Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces and, with a floured rolling pin, roll each out into a thin 10-inch circle. Place the bottom circle on prepared baking sheet. If it lost its circle shape, use your hands to form the edges back into a round shape. Top with filling, then layer the remaining circles and filling on top. The top layer does not have filling on it, so only 3 of the 4 circles will be topped with filling. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut any scraps around the edges so you have an even circle. Place a 3 inch round object or bowl in the center and make an indent. This is the center of the star. Now it’s time to cut strips from the edge to the center 3-inch circle. Using a pizza cutter, cut 16 even strips. Using both hands, grab two strips and twist them away from each other twice, then press the two ends together to make a point. Your star bread will have 8 points.
  6.  Cover the shaped bread with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  8. Bake the bread: Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the star bread with egg wash. This ensures a beautifully shiny golden brown bread. Bake for about 25- 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. If you notice the top or points browning too quickly, loosely tent the star bread with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.
  9. Dust confectioners’ sugar on top and enjoy warm. Cover and store leftover star bread at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Refrigerate dough for up to 1-2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Prepare bread dough through step 3 below. After it has risen, punch the dough down to release the air bubbles. Cover the dough tightly, then place it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready, thaw the bread overnight in the refrigerator. (If frozen.) Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Punch the dough down again to release any air bubbles. Then, continue with step 5. I do not recommend shaping the star bread and refrigerating overnight. Letting the shaped bread sit in the refrigerator overnight risks over-rising and losing its shape.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 2-cup Glass Measuring Cup | Bench Scraper | Marble Rolling Pin | Pizza CutterBaking Sheet | Pastry Brush
  3. Yeast: I always use Red Star Platinum yeast, an instant yeast. If using active dry yeast, the rise times could be slightly longer. Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.
  4. Layers: The top layer does not have filling on it, so only top 3 of the 4 shaped circles.
  5. FILLINGS:

Cinnamon Sugar: Spread 1 Tablespoon of very soft unsalted butter onto each of the 3 circles. (3 Tbsp total.) Mix 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. This is the total amount and you will divide it between each circle. Sprinkle evenly over butter on each circle.

Nutella: Spread 1 heaping Tablespoon of Nutella onto each of the 3 circles. Nutella is difficult to spread onto soft dough, so warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds until it’s a spreadable consistency.

Your favorite jam: Spread 1 Tablespoon of jam onto each of the 3 circles.

Butter, Brown Sugar, + Ginger: Spread 1 Tablespoon of very soft unsalted butter onto each of the 3 circles. Mix 3 Tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 Tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger. Sprinkle evenly over butter on each circle.

Apple Butter or Pumpkin Butter: Spread 1 heaping Tablespoon onto each of the 3 circles.

Chai Spice: Spread 1 Tablespoon of very soft unsalted butter onto each of the 3 circles. Mix 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar with 1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ground ginger,  ground cardamom, and ground allspice. Sprinkle evenly over butter on each circle.

Butter + Cinnamon Sugar + Walnuts + Dates: Spread 1 Tablespoon of very soft unsalted butter onto each of the 3 circles. Mix 3 Tablespoons packed brown or granulated sugar with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 2 Tablespoons each finely chopped walnuts and pitted dates. Sprinkle evenly over butter on each circle.

Cinnamon sugar + Orange Zest + Fresh or Dried Cranberries: Spread 1 Tablespoon of very soft unsalted butter onto each of the 3 circles. Mix 3 Tablespoons packed brown or granulated sugar with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons orange zest, and 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh or dried cranberries. Sprinkle evenly over butter on each circle.

Savory: Reduce sugar in the dough to 1 Tablespoon. Spread 1 heaping Tablespoon of tomato sauce or pesto onto each of the 3 circles. (Try my kale pesto!). Top each with a light layer of shredded cheese, herbs, and/or chopped pepperoni.

Method taught by master baker Zoe Bakes!

using a metal sieve to add confectioners' sugar on top of cinnamon sugar star bread

149 Comments

  1. Could this recipe be adapted to make mini/individual breads? Was thinking gift ideas hehe. Also just wondering why bread flour is not used and all purpose is. I love your cinnamon loaf bread, so just had me thinking. Looking forward to trying this!

    1. What a fun idea! I’m concerned that the smaller the strips, the much more difficult it would be to twist them. Try making 2 smaller breads. Cut the dough in half, cut each into 4 pieces, then roll each out into 5 inch circles. The bake time will be shorter. Let me know how it goes!

  2. I just made it. Had to improvise a little because my oven stopped working, but managed to make it in the toaster oven. I did Nutella filling and it turned out great. It’s a keeper recipe!!!! thank you for the idea

  3. I would like to know how to double this recipe, I have a large family and would need more than one to feed everyone.

    1. Hi Lindsay! I recommend making the dough twice, separately.

  4. Hadassah Danielle says:

    I love to bake bread, and so when I saw this recipe, I knew that I had to try it. I made this today, and OMG it is incredible! It not only looks beautiful, but it also tastes SO good. Even though it looks intimidating to make, it was actually really easy, and the dough is quite forgiving. Thank you for sharing your recipe for this gorgeous bread, Sally!

  5. Hi Sally,

    This looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it. I’ve never been disappointed in any of the recipes I’ve tried from you! What would happen if 1% milk was used instead of whole milk?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Michelle, thank you so much for following my blog! 1% milk would be fine, but the dough may not be as soft.

  6. Hey Sally! Do you think you could mix this dough without a standing mixer? I only have a hand mixer with beater attachments and my two hands – what do you recommend?

    Thanks so much! This recipe looks beautiful.
    -Jennifer

    1. Hi Jennifer! Yes, absolutely. Use your hand mixer with the beaters.

  7. hi there. my dough is very soft and it had small breaks when i twisted it. what do you think i did wrong or what can i do to keep this from happening ? love your blog and that you are doing videos!

    1. Hi Sarah! The dough may not have risen long enough. If it keeps breaking, cover the dough and set it aside for 15 minutes. Letting it rest will help make shaping easier.

  8. I’m wondering about using almond paste for the filling. Any suggestions?!

    1. Hi Jessica! Yum! Almond paste should work just fine as the filling. You can even warm it a little on the stove so it’s a spreadable consistency.

  9. Everyone at my work potluck was so impressed by this star bread! I made it with Nutella and it was great!!!

  10. I have my star bread in the oven right now! Will bring to my parents’ tomorrow for Thanksgiving and I know they’re gonna love it! I did cinnamon sugar and my house smells d-i-v-i-n-e. Thank you for a very clear, thorough recipe and if that wasn’t enough, the video helped me tremendously (especially in the shaping part). I’ve always been intimidated by breads as I’m more of a cake and dessert person but this recipe has become one of my favorites.

  11. Hi Sally,
    This is my December baking goal! Can’t wait to try it! As always, your detailed directions and advice for breaking up the steps is super helpful. You give directions for making the dough ahead, but I was curious about if you could fill and shape the bread the afternoon/evening before…then put it in the fridge until morning and and bake it then. You mention the risk of the bread losing its shape with a long rise. If it’s in the fridge, would that slow down the rise and, therefore, help the bread retain its shape? If it’s possible to refrigerate the shaped bread and bake it in the morning, would I refrigerate it immediately after filling and shaping? Or would I still let it rise for 20 minutes, then refrigerate? Hope all of my questions makes sense!
    Thanks for your help…and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
    Erin

    1. Hi Erin! You can try to refrigerate the shaped star bread dough overnight, but I fear it would still puff up too much. If doing so, cover tightly and refrigerate immediately after shaping it. (Do not let it rest at room temperature.)

  12. Wendy Tuccille says:

    Hi Sally,
    Love your site and all your recipes. So much fun and so easy to follow!!
    I am planning to make star bread with nutella and toasted hazelnuts for Christmas morning. Can I make it through step 6 the night before and rest it in the refrigerator overnight. That way it can be popped in the oven first thing in the morning with minimal work Xmas morning. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Wendy! You can try to refrigerate the shaped star bread dough overnight, but I fear it would still puff up too much. If doing so, cover tightly and refrigerate immediately after shaping it. (Do not let it rest at room temperature.)

  13. Made this beautiful treat for the day after Thanksgiving breakfast for my family and it just turned out so tasty and identical to your results!
    Everyone loved the appearance and loved the way it tasted.
    Truly one I would make over and over again. So simple!
    Thanks Sally!

  14. Can you freeze this after baking? If so, how would you prepare to serve?

    1. Absolutely. I recommend thawing in the refrigerator overnight, then warming up in a 300 degree F oven for 15 minutes.

  15. How could I make it just chocolate?

    1. You can simply use melted and slightly cooled chocolate between the layers!

  16. What’s the best way to prepare this the night before if I want to go beyond step 3 to reduce prep time in the morning? Can I prepare it all the way with the filling and let the dough sit in the fridge overnight? Or would you suggest baking it and just reheating it the next morning? Thanks for the help!

    1. Hi Hayley! Letting the shaped bread sit in the refrigerator overnight risks over-rising and losing its shape. You can bake it then reheat it in the morning. 🙂

  17. Hi Sally! I made this bread today and it was so easy and delicious! For the cinnamon and sugar filling, do you use 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon for each layer? I think mine needed more of that flavor, I only used that total measurement for all the layers. Thanks!

    1. Hey Jamie! Not each layer– that amount is divided between each layer.

  18. I JUST made this star bread (no, truly, it just came out of the oven). It looks absolutely gorgeous! And it was so much easier than I thought it would be after having watched the video. I chose the cinnamon sugar bread because I plan on having this as a breakfast treat. Thank you, Sally, for your helpful videos and the easy way you explain everything. You are without a doubt my go-to, favorite food blogger. I’m a baker and it’s nice to know that I can count on you to demystify some of the more difficult looking bakes.

    Happy holidays to you and yours!!

  19. I made this for my family’s Christmas morning breakfast. It turned out beautifully… just like your pictures. I always appreciate the make-ahead directions, and that’s what I used, so that I wouldn’t have as much to do in the morning. I drew a 10-inch circle on parchment paper, and rolled the first layer straight onto the parchment. With the other layers, I rolled them onto my pastry board that I sprayed with non-stick spray so that the soft, sticky dough could come up easily. Although my layers didn’t match up perfectly at first, after shaping with my hands and using the penciled circle on the parchment as a guideline, it ended up looking like a nice round circle. I didn’t trim any of it with a pizza cutter. This is not overly sweet or too sugary. It’s a delicious, and turns out perfectly. My sons said it was worth making again, and I’m eager to try other flavors. Thanks for another great recipe, Sally. 🙂

  20. I used the make ahead recipe to make it easier to finish on Christmas morning. Do you think you could make the whole thing and form it and then refrigerate over night? Or would that mess up the second rise and make the bread too dense?

    I made two batches – one sweet and one savory. For the sweet, I added orange zest to the dough and filled with brown sugar, orange zest, and cranberries. The smell of the dough with orange zest was perfect. We needed some extra brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling. For the savory, I put some dried oregano and basil in the dough and filled with tomato pesto and cheese. My family was impressed and everyone loved the taste! The dough was fluffy and tasty. I will definitely be making this recipe again!

  21. Kathryn Smith says:

    My mother thought it would be a good idea to bring this star bread to the dinner we are having after church tonight. I wanted to make it, so that’s what happened. It’s a close second to something I have made that looks hard, but was super easy. Since we are going to dinner I made it savory with pesto and parmesan cheese & a tsp of herbs added to the dough. My mother says it smells heavenly all I smell is “stinky” pesto. Funny how one person’s treasure smell is another person not so pretty smell. I know everyone is going to love it. Thanks for this recipe, I loved making it even if I will not be eating any of it.

  22. I made this, but the filling exploded out of all of the sides, and the top. I had to let it rest for close to an hour because of something else being in the oven, would that have caused the issue? Thank you.

    1. Yes. It sounds like the shaped bread sat for too long before baking.

  23. Elizabeth Rydz says:

    Delicious and easy to make! I didn’t encounter any issues. I do find the cinnamon filling. ABIT light on the sugar though – next time I’ll double (or triple!) the cinnamon. Thanks!

  24. Amazing recipe! I was intimidated for so long that I put off trying it but it could not have been simpler! My kitchen smells like heaven! I’m going to try a savory version next!

  25. Would this work for Easter somehow adding food coloring?

    1. I bet it would! Be sure to post a picture if you try it!

  26. If I could give it more than five stars, I would…..this recipe is above and beyond 😉
    I’ve made this bread several times with several different fillings – I’ve tried cinnamon sugar, pie apple and blackberry jam……all incredibly delicious!!! And the so-complicated-looking twist on each point of the star is so simple – I could hardly believe it the first time I made it – definitely recommend this to everyone! Thank you Sally!

  27. Hi Sally ! It was not like I wanted but it’s great…

  28. Made the star bread this past weekend, came out great. I used the cranberry/orange zest filling. I was a little surprised how soft the dough was but it was easy to work with and I’ll definitely be making this again, not only does it taste great but looks great. Thank you for another great recipe.

  29. Just finished making this and now it is cooling. Looks FANTASTIC. Your instructions were perfect.

  30. Ariane Noyaerts says:

    AND it tastes great too. Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

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