I know what you are thinking! This is way too much of a challenge for my baking skills! But, believe me when I say, that this cinnamon start bread looks more impressive than it is!
Once you work out how to do the twists, its surprisingly easy to make and it doesn’t take as long as you might think.
I first come across this type of bread when I was putting together a bread baking session for a group of friends visiting London and wanting to do something baking related together.
My brief was to come up with a bread baking session that would be more advanced and teach them new types of breads.
I wanted to come up with something that would look and taste great and this cinnamon star bread was one of the bakes we made on that day.
Few tips on making this cinnamon star bread
I’ve used white strong bread flour for this recipe. This is because I need the gluten from the bread flour to help me to keep the structure of the star.
Since this is an enriched dough, I’m using twice the amount of yeast I would normally use for this size of the bread. This is because the yeast needs to work with extra ingredients, like butter, eggs, milk or sugar which weigh the dough down.
I’ve used two egg yolks in this recipe, which give the dough lovely colour (and taste). You could use the egg whites in an omelette, but if you don’t have other plans for the two egg whites, you could use one whole egg. Just keep a little bit of egg white to brush on the cinnamon star before you bake it.
I’ve used cinnamon, un-salted butter and sugar for this recipe, but you could also use mixed spice, gingerbread spice for a seasonal twist. If you wanted to change the filling completely, you can use hazelnut and chocolate spread or another sweet type of filling. As long as it’s not too runny, because that would spoil the look of the bread star.
Mixing the dough
To give your dough the best start in life, warm up the butter and milk to room temperature before you add them to the dough. This will help with the proving time (e.g. it will make it a bit faster).
This enriched sweet dough benefits from proving in the warm oven, but be careful of not overheating the oven too much, otherwise the dough might collapse.
Rolling out the dough
Make sure that you divide the dough into 4 equal parts by weighing each piece of dough first. This is not about being pedantic baker, this is about your dough circles being the same size when you roll them out and avoiding wonky cinnamon star.
Before you roll out the first piece of dough, lightly wipe your kitchen work counter surface with vegetable oil and also oil your rolling pin.
Gently squish the dough and pull a little bit from the middle, relaxing the dough at the same time. Then take the rolling pin and gently start to roll out from the middle of the dough. The dough is going to fight back. This is normal – it’s the gluten that you’ve created by kneading the dough.
Finish the dough circle by pulling it (from the middle) until you have your desired size. About 30-40cm depending on your baking tray size (and your oven).
Knowing when the dough is baked
This is the tricky part as you can’t check the bread in the normal ‘bready way’ (i.e. to knock at the bottom and hear that it sounds hollow). This is because of all the extra yummy ingredients like butter, eggs and milk, which make the bread dough soft and feeling like it’s slightly wet and underbaked.
Your best bet is to make sure that your oven is exactly 170C before you put the cinnamon bread in, place it in the middle shelf and then bake it for 20-25 minutes. The top should be golden brown (my cinnamon start bread in the picture is slightly overdone).
After that take the tray out and place it on the cooling rack. I usually slide the cinnamon star using the baking parchment and leave it on a cooling rack until it’s cold enough to eat.
Like any other bread, your cinnamon star bun is still baking after you take it out of the oven (the steam carries on baking the dough as it escapes), so it’s important to move the star bun out of the tray as soon as you can.
Cinnamon Star Bread Recipe
- 450 g white bread flour strong bread flour
- 70 g caster sugar white sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 180 ml milk
- 14 g yeast 2 sachets of instant yeast (7g each)
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp 30g butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 egg white to brush the star at the end
For the cinnamon filling
- 100 g caster white sugar
- 100 g butter unsalted, softened at room temperature
- 4 tbsp ground cinnamon
- Measure out the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, yeast) into a large bowl and mix well.
- Add the butter softened at room temperature and the egg yolks.
- Mix all the ingredients together with wooden spoon until you get a crumbly mixture.
- Warm the milk for about 15 seconds in the microwave, just enough to be luke warm.
- Pour the milk into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Shape into a ball, take it out of the bowl and knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or 15-20 minutes by hand.
- Place the dough into a clean and oiled plastic bowl and cover with tea towel, lid or plastic shower cap (unused one).
- Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour (it should double in size).
- In the meantime, prepare the filling by mixing the caster sugar with the cinnamon. Add the softened butter and mix until combined and you get a soft paste. Keep at room temperature.
- When the dough doubled in size, take it out of the bowl and divide into 4 equal parts. It's best to weigh the 4 parts to make sure that they are the same size. Shape them into balls and cover with a plastic (or put them back under the plastic bowl)
- Take the first ball and roll a large circle with a rolling pin. Check the size of your largest baking sheet and aim for that size (I make mine about 30-40cm in diameter)
- Line a large baking sheet with a baking/greaseproof parchment and place the first dough circle on the top.
- Divide the cinnamon filling into 3 equal parts. Weigh them if you are not sure.
- Spread 1/3 of the cinnamon filling on the first dough circle, making sure that the filling is evenly spread.
- Repeat with the other balls of dough (roll them out, place them on the top of the previous layer and spread 1/3 of the cinnamon filling on top)
- Roll out the final circle and just place it on the top of the last one (with the filling). The last layer doesn't have any topping/filling.
- Place a small glass or something similar in the center of the dough circle. – this is to prevent you from cutting right through the whole circle.
- Using a sharp knife (or pizza tool) divide the circle into quarters first (remember to leave the center intact). Then divide every quarter into 4 equal parts. At the end, you should have 16 equal parts.
- Take 2 parts of the circle next to each other, lift them up gently and twist them twice around in the opposite direction, and lay them down. Pinch the two parts gently together.
- Repeat with all pairs to form an eight-armed star (with double twists).
- Cover very loosely with a plastic and leave to proof for another 20-30 min – until the star doubles in size (or slightly less than that)
- Pre-heat your oven to 170 C (330F) or low-medium gas.
- When your cinnamon star has nearly doubled in size, brush the surface with egg white before putting it into the oven.
- Bake at 170C , for about 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.
- Let cool a little bit, and enjoy!