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Cinnamon Star Bread

One of my favourite Christmas bakes is Cinnamon Star Bread. With the delicious flavour of cinnamon rolls, this sweet bread recipe makes a beautiful loaf to feed a crowd. It is also actually much simpler than it looks, relying on clever cutting and twisting of the layers of dough to achieve the beautiful design.

It’s definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Munich! The Christmas markets have opened, filling the city streets with cute little wooden huts and the air with the beguiling aromas of Glühwein and roasted almonds. 

Everywhere you turn it seems like there are tinsel and fairy lights and the sound of Christmas carols floating in the air.

With Christmas around the corner, I’ve got baking on my mind, though this wonderfully festive Cinnamon Star Bread recipe is so tasty and so beautiful that you won’t want to save it just for the Christmas season!

Cinnamon Star Bread on a wooden board with Christmas decorations.

What is Cinnamon Star Bread?

It’s like your favourite Cinnamon rolls, but bigger and more beautiful! Layers of sweet, enriched yeast dough are spread with cinnamon and sugar, then stacked, cut and twisted into a gorgeous star-shaped design.

Is star bread difficult to make?

Not at all! This is a super forgiving recipe, and the clever twisting of the dough makes it look much more complicated than it actually is.

Ingredients

To make my Cinnamon Star Bread recipe you’ll need the following main ingredients:

  • Flour: Plain or all-purpose flour are both suitable for this recipe.
  • Milk: I always use whole milk for baking, as it ensures a golden brown crust and soft, pillowy bread.
  • Yeast: In Europe, we commonly use fresh yeast for baking. Active dried or instant yeast is suitable too, though you may find the dough needs an extra few minutes to rise.
  • Butter: I always use unsalted butter when baking, that way I can control the salt content in the final product. If using salted butter, omit the extra salt from the recipe.
  • Sugar: For a clean design I use white sugar in this recipe, though you could add a little brown sugar to the filling for extra caramel flavour.
  • Cinnamon: The star of the show! If you like, add a little mixed or pumpkin spice for a wonderfully aromatic bake.

Full ingredient list and instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

How to make Cinnamon Star Bread

How to make Star Bread

Making star bread has four main steps:

  • Step 1: Make the enriched yeast dough. I start off with a very wet dough to ensure all the ingredients are well combined, then add the remaining flour to finish off. It’s easiest to use a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment fitted, but you can mix the dough with a wooden spoon and then knead by hand if necessary.
  • You can make the dough up to this point and then finish the baking on Christmas morning if you’d like your bread extra fresh!
  • Step 2: After the dough has risen for the first time, divide it into four equal pieces. Roll each piece out like a pizza to a 25cm / 10-inch circle. Spread three with melted butter, sugar and cinnamon, leaving the last plain. Stack the dough circles on a baking tray.
  • Step 3: To shape the dough, Place a small water glass or similar in the middle of the dough circle to use as a guide. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough 16 equal strips, a bit like a flower. Remove the glass, then pick up two adjacent dough strips, twist them away from each other twice, then seal the ends by squeezing them together firmly. Repeat with the remaining dough strips.
  • Step 4: Allow the dough to rise again for half an hour, then brush with a simple egg wash and bake to golden brown, pillowy-soft perfection!
Unbaked Cinnamon Star Bread.

Variations

  • Different star bread fillings: This dough makes a delicious savoury star as well. Try it with pesto instead of cinnamon sugar, or pizza sauce and lots of grated cheese – delicious!
  • Different shapes: This simple dough recipe can be used to make different shapes, you can make a big tray of cinnamon rolls, or use a similar method to make Chocolate and Hazelnut Babka!

Looking for more delicious Christmas recipes? Why not try my Mulled Wine Cheesecake, Berry Pavlova or Christmas Fruit Mince Pies!


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

It is summer where I am and I am finding the dough really hard to manage. Any tips?

Working with dough and pastry is always a bit easier in a cool kitchen. If you are in the southern hemisphere and enjoying summer, it’s worth cooling the dough for 15 minutes in the refrigerator before you start to work with it.

This loaf is huge! Can I halve the recipe?

This recipe makes a great big loaf with 8 generous portions. If you like, split the dough in half and make 2 smaller stars, or just one and save the rest of the dough for another batch – it will keep for several days well covered in the fridge – just bring it back to room temperature before baking.

Baked Cinnamon Star Bread on a board.
Close up of Cinnamon Star Bread on a wooden board with Christmas decorations.
Cinnamon Star Bread on a wooden board with Christmas decorations.

Cinnamon Star Bread Recipe

Cinnamon Star Bread on a wooden board with Christmas decorations.

Cinnamon Star Bread

Yield: Serves 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Rising Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes

One of my favourite Christmas bakes is Cinnamon Star Bread. With the delicious flavour of cinnamon rolls, this sweet bread recipe makes a beautiful loaf to feed a crowd.

It is also actually much simpler than it looks, relying on clever cutting and twisting of the layers of dough to achieve the beautiful design.

Ingredients

for the enriched dough:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
  • 21 g fresh yeast, or 7g active dry yeast / instant yeast
  • 500 g (1 lb.) plain or all-purpose flour, separated 300g / 200g (3/5 & 2/5)
  • 50 g (4 Tbsp) white sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 50 g (½ stick) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 large egg, beaten

for the filling:

  • 50 g (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 100 g (8 Tbsp) white sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon

for the egg wash:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp whole milk

to serve:

  • powdered / icing sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. PREPARE YEAST: Heat the milk gently in a small saucepan until it is just warm. Remove from the heat, sprinkle or crumble the yeast over the warm milk and set aside.
  2. KNEAD DOUGH: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook fitted (see note 1) combine 300g flour, sugar and salt. While mixing, add the softened butter and egg, then give the milk and yeast mixture a stir and pour it into the bowl. Run the mixer on medium speed until the ingredients are combined, then with the mixer on low speed add the remaining flour. Knead for 5 minutes.
  3. After 5 minutes the dough should be moving freely around the bowl of the mixer, and only lightly sticky. If it is still a little liquid or sticking to the sides of the bowl add one tablespoon of flour and knead for another minute.
  4. LET DOUGH RISE: When the dough has finished kneading, shape it into a ball - it should feel soft, springy and elastic - don’t worry if it’s a little sticky, this is normal, just dust it with a little flour if it makes it easier to handle. Place the dough ball back in the bowl, cover it with a clean cloth or some plastic wrap let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour until doubled in size.
  5. DIVIDE DOUGH: When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, flatten out the air and divide it into 4 equal pieces. I find it useful to weigh the dough so that my pieces are as even as possible. Roll each into a ball, then cover again and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, line an oven tray with baking paper and whisk together the cinnamon and sugar for the filling.
  6. ROLL DOUGH: has rested, roll a piece out into a 25cm / 10-inch circle. Place it on the baking tray, brush generously with melted butter, leaving a 1cm border around the edges, then sprinkle with ⅓ of the cinnamon sugar. Repeat with the remaining dough layers, leaving the top layer plain.
  7. CUT AND SHAPE DOUGH: Place a small water glass or similar in the middle of the dough circle to use as a guide. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into quarters (leaving the middle under the glass intact!), each quarter in half again, and each eighth in half again (see pictures) to give you a total of 16 equal strips, a bit like a flower. Remove the glass, then pick up two adjacent dough strips, twist them away from each other twice, then seal the ends by squeezing them together firmly. Repeat with the remaining dough strips.
  8. SECOND RISE: Cover loosely with a cloth and allow to rise for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4.
  9. GLAZE DOUGH: When the dough has risen for the final time, pinch the ends of the points together one more time, then beat the egg and milk for the egg wash together in a small bowl and brush the dough all over.
  10. BAKE: Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and risen. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before dusting generously with powdered sugar and serving.

Notes

Note 1: While an enriched yeast dough like this is easier to make with a stand mixer, you can make it by hand too! Because the dough starts off very wet, you will need to use a wooden spoon to ‘knead’ it until it starts to come together. After that you can knead as normal, using a small amount of extra flour if it is very sticky.

Imperial and cup measurements are approximate. For best and most accurate results I use and recommend a digital kitchen scale like the one below.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 196mgCarbohydrates: 60gFiber: 2gSugar: 36gProtein: 7g

Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.

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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food photographer. Jay is the author of two cookbooks: 'Tasty' (2017) and 'Simply Summer' (2019). Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

Articles: 293

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