You want to bake something extra-special for the holidays. A real show-stopper, as delicious as it is gorgeous.
One big challenge: these weeks from mid-November through the end of the year are incredibly busy. Who has time to research, decide on, bake, and — fingers crossed — end up with said show-stopper?
Trust me, I'm the last person who wants to take time — LOTS of time — to produce Instagram-perfect baked goods right now. Thus I recently approached Cinnamon Star Bread with a healthy dose of skepticism.
"Anything that looks this striking has to involve all kinds of fussing," I think. And reading the instructions reinforces my belief: rolling four 10" disks of yeast dough, stacking, cutting, twisting, pinching... blech!
But, obedient soldier that I am, I set aside a morning to perform my duty: make Cinnamon Star Bread for this blog post. Sigh.
And by the time I pull my gorgeous loaf out of the oven, I realize I haven't cussed once. Those four dough disks? Rolled and patted out like a dream; they ranged from 11" to 9 1/2" in size, yet the bread still looks great: perfectly symmetrical.
That stacking (simple), cutting (scissors make it easy), twisting (like wringing a washcloth) and pinching (thumb and forefinger) — no problem. Despite my initial misgivings, not a SINGLE THING about this bread is hard.
Except waiting long enough to take a photo before ripping into it.
Because, friends, not only is this loaf gorgeous; it's your best cinnamon bun dream come true. Multiple layers of cinnamon-sugar encased in tender bread beg you to pull apart, slice, or nibble. Each warm and aromatic bite is better than the last.
So you think you can't make this bread? Think again. If I, a woman without a single "crafty" gene (e.g. sewing, scrimshaw carving, making porcupines out of pretzel sticks and kiwi fruit) can make this bread — so can you.
Gather your confidence, and your ingredients:
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup to 1 cup lukewarm water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
First, measure the flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Or even easier, weigh it (you'll see its weight in the list above).
Next, sift the flour, potato flour, and dry milk through a strainer; this is an important step to prevent lumps in the dough. (If you're using instant mashed potatoes rather than potato flour you can skip this sifting step.)
Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a soft, smooth dough.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 60 minutes, until it's nearly doubled in bulk.
Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover the balls, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, gather your filling ingredients:
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup sugar*
1 tablespoon cinnamon*
*Or substitute 1/2 cup Cinnamon-Sugar Plus
On a lightly greased or floured work surface (or piece of parchment), roll one piece of dough into a 10" circle.
As I said, don't worry about making the circle exactly 10" wide, or even totally round. Just do your best; rising and baking will cover any shaping faux pas.
If you've rolled on your countertop, place the circle on a piece of parchment. Brush a thin coat of beaten egg on the surface.
Evenly sprinkle with one-third of the cinnamon-sugar (a 3 scant tablespoons), leaving 1/4" of bare dough around the perimeter.
Roll out a second circle the same size as the first, and place it on top of the filling-covered circle. Brush it with egg, and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
Repeat the layering process — egg, cinnamon-sugar, dough circle — leaving the top circle bare. Reserve a bit of the beaten egg to brush over the star once it's shaped.
Place a 2 1/2" to 3" round cutter, can, or drinking glass in the center of the dough circle as a guide. With a bench knife or sharp knife, cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layers.
Or do like I do: I press the round cutter in the middle down just enough to leave an imprint and remove it. Then take a pair of scissors and cut from the outside edge of the dough to the center, stopping at the line left by the cutter. It helps to first cut the dough into four quadrants; then to cut each quadrant into four (hopefully even) wedges.
Using two hands, pick up two adjacent dough strips and twist them away from each other twice so that the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.
Pinch the pairs of strips together to create a star-like shape with eight points. Don't be fussy; just pinch and pull to make somewhat flower-like "petals."
Remove the cutter, if you haven't already.
Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover the star and let it rise until it becomes noticeably puffy, about 45 minutes.
While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Brush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg.
Bake the star for 12 to 15 minutes, until it's nicely golden with dark brown cinnamon streaks; the center should register 200°F on a digital thermometer.
Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Bask in the glow of your family's admiration. Who knew you were such an artist?
We've got you covered. Unlike many gluten-free yeast doughs, the dough for our Gluten-Free Cinnamon Star Bread is wonderfully shapeable. Give it a try, and see what we mean!
Make & freeze
This bread can be baked and frozen up to 1 month before you're planning to serve it. Once it's cool, wrap it airtight and store in the coldest part of your freezer, preferably away from the door. To prepare it for serving, thaw it overnight, still wrapped, at room temperature. Place it on a baking sheet, tent lightly with foil, and reheat in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes, until it's warmed through.
We don't recommend shaping the unbaked loaf, then refrigerating it overnight before baking; much of the cinnamon filling drains out and puddles around the loaf. Better to bake the loaf completely, then rewarm just before serving.
Do you bake at altitude? Check out our high-altitude baking tips.
Elegant, simple — and unbelievably easy. Take the Cinnamon Star Bread Bakealong challenge to see how it's done.
Interested in more? See our complete collection of Bakealong recipes.