Tender, buttery, and loaded with spicy cinnamon and rich brown sugar, this Star Bread makes for a gorgeous holiday dessert. The sweet milk bread is moist and packed with vanilla, and the decadent filling features all your favorite winter flavors.
I absolutely love the holiday season, but I especially love the holiday-themed foods. Among these, festive desserts and sweet breakfast items stand out as my favorites. My top choice during this festive time is this star bread. It’s not just a gorgeous showstopper but also super delicious. The milk bread base is wonderfully rich, sweet, and tender, offering an easy pull-apart texture. The luxurious filling is packed with the creamy richness of butter, the warmth of cinnamon, and the sweetness of brown sugar.
What is Star Bread?
Star bread is a sweet pull-apart milk bread smothered with a buttery cinnamon and brown sugar filling. It’s very similar to a cinnamon bun, except way more beautiful! This is a holiday treat that you can have for breakfast, dessert, or as a midday snack with a cup of coffee or tea.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Perfect for the holidays. This is the perfect fancy breakfast or festive dessert for Christmas, New Year’s, or any other fall or winter holiday. The bread is soft, and the filling is rich and decadent. Add in the powdered sugar, and it’s a perfect holiday recipe.
- Easy to make. The recipe is straightforward and simple, and it doesn’t take very long to put it together.
- Affordable. This recipe only uses affordable kitchen staples. It is a fraction of the cost of buying a holiday sweet treat.
- Bakery-quality. Homemade star bread looks and tastes like something you got at a fancy bakery.
Star Bread Ingredients
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this bread recipe. All of the ingredients are pantry staples, and if you bake often, you likely already have them in your fridge or cupboard.
- For the Bread: whole milk, granulated sugar, instant or dry active yeast, all-purpose flour, sea salt, pure vanilla extract, vegetable oil, and egg yolk.
- For the Filling: unsalted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
- For the Assembly: egg, whole milk, and powdered sugar.
How to Make Star Bread
- Bloom the yeast. Gently stir the warm milk, sugar, and yeast into a bowl and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes or until frothy.
- Make the dough. Add the flour, salt, vanilla, oil, and egg yolk to a bowl, then add the milk mixture. Form the ingredients into a dough using your hands, a stand mixer, or a food processor.
- Knead the dough. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 5 to 7 minutes until smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.
- Let rise. Transfer the dough to a greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
- Make the cinnamon sugar. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
- Punch the dough. After the dough has doubled in size, lightly punch it to release air bubbles.
- Divide. Cut the dough into four equal portions.
- Roll the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll out one of the pieces of dough into a circle that’s about 10 to 12 inches across. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Add the filling. Spread about a third of the butter over the rolled-out dough circle, then sprinkle about a third of the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top.
- Repeat. Repeat this process twice more to use up the butter and cinnamon-sugar mixture, stacking each layer on top of each other. Then, roll out the final piece of dough and place it on the top.
- Make a center. Place a small glass, bowl, or biscuit cutter in the center of the star dough to create an indentation.
- Divide. Cut the dough outside the center indentation into 16 equal-sized sections.
- Shape. Take two adjacent pieces of the star bread sections and twist them away from each other, then pinch the ends together. Repeat with all the sections until the bread is fully shaped.
- Proof. Cover the shaped bread with a kitchen towel for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Brush. Mix the egg with the milk and brush it over the top of the star bread.
- Bake the bread for about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Serve. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes on a wire rack. Dust the bread with powdered sugar and serve warm.
Tips for Success
- Rotate the star bread. Check the star bread halfway through the baking process to see if it’s baking evenly. If the bread is baking more quickly on one side than on the other, just rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking.
- Heat the milk. You need to heat the milk to the right temperature to activate the yeast properly. For best results, use an instant-read thermometer and heat the milk to 110˚F.
- Use 100% pure vanilla. You can use vanilla extract or paste in this recipe. Whichever you use, make sure that it’s 100% pure vanilla.
- Room-temperature eggs. I always recommend using room-temperature eggs when baking. They mix better with the other ingredients, which makes your baked goods light and smooth instead of heavy and dense.
How to Store
Wrap the bread in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight bag or container. It will keep for 2 to 3 days at room temperature, at least 5 days in the fridge, and about 3 months in the freezer. Reheat in a 350˚F oven for 15 minutes. To reheat, place the star bread on a baking sheet and loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
More Holiday Desserts to Try
- Easy Carrot Cake with Sugared Cranberries
- The Best Pecan Pie
- Christmas Cranberry Pound Cake
- Cherry Cheesecake
- Christmas Cake Mix Cookies
- Nutella Puff Pastry Christmas Tree
For the Bread:
For the Filling:
For the Assembly:
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- In a small bowl, combine the warm milk with the granulated sugar and yeast. Stir gently to dissolve the yeast and sugar. Let the mixture sit for about 5 to 10 minutes or until frothy, which means the yeast is active.
- Add the yeast mixture to a mixing bowl with the flour, salt, vanilla, oil, and egg yolk. Mix in a stand mixer, food processor, or by hand until the ingredients form a dough.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 to 7 minutes until smooth and elastic. You may need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for about one hour or until doubled in size.
- While the dough rises, mix the cinnamon with the brown sugar and set aside.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it lightly to remove the air bubbles, then divide it into 4 equal portions.
- Roll out one of the pieces of dough on a floured surface into a large circle, about 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Place it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Spread 2 tablespoons of butter over the circle of dough, then sprinkle a third of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
- Roll a second layer of dough and place it on top. Cover with 2 more tablespoons of butter and another third of the cinnamon sugar mixture, then repeat a third time.
- Roll out the final layer of dough and place it on top.
- Place a small circular object, like a glass or a biscuit cutter in the center of the stack of dough to create an indentation.
- Use a knife or pizza cutter to divide the dough into 16 equal portions, leaving the center untouched.
- Take 2 adjacent pieces of dough and twist them away from each other, then pinch them together at the ends. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 20 to 30 minutes.
- While the dough rises, preheat your oven to 350˚F.
- In a small bowl, whisk one whole egg with 2 tablespoons of milk; brush the egg mixture over the top of the star bread.
- Place the bread in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool the bread for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then dust it with powdered sugar and serve it warm.
- To store leftovers, wrap in plastic wrap then place in an airtight bag. They’ll last at room temperature for at least 2 days, in the fridge for at least 5 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.
- To reheat, place the star bread on a baking sheet and lightly tent with aluminum foil. Bake in a 350˚F oven for 15 minutes.