Beautiful and delicious raspberry star bread, ideal for sharing with friends and family during holiday season! Made with soft and airy dough, which is shaped into the eye-catching star design, filled with layers of raspberry jam and dusted with some icing sugar for that extra-festive look.
You can use your favourite filling to turn it into sweet or savoury bake, and it's a great recipe to make ahead of time. It may look complicated, but it's actually easy to make, and it will guarantee to impress your guests!
Without a doubt, this is one of the most festive bakes ever, perfect in the most festive month - December! Not only it is beautifully folded into this star/ snowflake shape, but it also tastes utterly delicious and it is perfect for sharing.
The dough for this pull apart bread is an adaptation of the enriched dough from my Hazelnut Swirl Buns recipe. What I love the most about it, is the fact that you can use different fillings with it, turning this into beautiful, sweet or savoury bread.
Here are the ingredients you will need to make this star bread recipe:
- Flour - I recommend using strong white bread flour, or a mixture of plain/ all purpose flour and strong white bread flour (50:50).
- Yeast - You can use any type of yeast in this recipe, but instant yeast always works best, based on my experience.
- Sugar - White caster or granulated sugar is fine to use.
- Eggs - Large or medium eggs will work fine. You will need two egg yolks (save whites for another recipes) and one large egg for an egg wash.
- Butter - Use salted or unsalted butter.
- Milk - Any type of milk is OK to use.
- Raspberry jam - Feel free to use any raspberry jam or conserve.
Bring the cold ingredients to room temperature before starting this recipe.
To make this raspberry star bead, it's best to plan ahead a little bit. The dough will need to prove twice, for best results, so I recommend starting it in the morning, or the night before, and refrigerate it overnight.
Hint: Check out the 'Make ahead' section of this blog post for my tips on how to prepare this bake in advance.
Start the recipe by placing the milk and the softened butter in a small saucepan and heat it up until the milk is lukewarm. Remove it from the heat, swirl the saucepan few times, to encourage the butter to melt completely, then pour this liquid into a small jug.
Add the yeast into the warm milk, and set it aside for 5-10 minutes, allowing the yeast to activate.
Place all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, and combine them briefly. Create a well in the middle, then add egg yolks followed by milk and yeast mixture.
Mix for about 5 minutes, until you have smooth, shiny and elastic dough. Transfer the dough into lightly oiled bowl, turning it once or twice to coat it in oil. Cover the bowl with tea towel or clingfilm and leave it to prove somewhere warm, until it has doubled in size.
Hint: Speed up the proving process by turning the oven onto it's lowest temperature setting. When it heats up to its lowest temperature, turn the oven off. Place the bowl with the dough inside of the warm oven. Another great hack, is to use the tumble dryer (if you have one). Let the empty tumble dryer run for about 5-10 minutes, then turn it off and place the bowl with the dough inside it.
When the dough is ready, place it on a lightly floured surface and punch it down gently, to release any large air bubbles. Shape it into a rough ball again and divide it into four pieces.
Assembling the dough
What makes this recipe so great, is the fact that this folding technique is actually easy to follow, but looks super impressive!
Roll each piece of the dough into a ball and cover them with clean, damp tea towel. Take one of the dough balls and using your hands first, flatten it, and shape it into a rough circle. Next, use the rolling pin to roll the dough into 30cm disk (you can also use the dinner plate or a bowl with similar dimensions as your guide).
Place the upside down plate on top of the dough disc and trim any excess dough. Roll the dough around the rolling pin (it's easier to transfer it this way), and place it on a baking tray lined with baking/ parchment paper.
Spread one tablespoon of raspberry jam on top of the dough disk. Now take the second dough ball and roll it into a circle, just like you did with the first one. Place the upside down plate on top of it and again, trim off any excess dough.
Place the second dough disc on top of the first one and spread jam on top. Repeat with the third dough ball. Fourth, top dough disc should not have any jam on top.
Hint: It's easier to transfer the dough circles if you wrap them around the rolling pin. Watch the video in the recipe card to see how!
Shaping the star
Use small glass or a bowl, and place it in the centre of your dough. Press it gently to make a small indent. Now, using the sharp knife or a pizza cutter, make 4 cuts, one at 12 o'clock, one at 3 o'clock, one at 6 o'clock and one at 9 o'clock.
Slice each of these quarters into two pieces, then cut each of those into two pieces again. You should have 16 pieces/ strands connected to the middle of the circle.
Take any two strands next to each other, and twist them two times away from each other. Pinch the ends of the strands together to form a point. Repeat with remaining strands, until you have a shape of a star/ snowflake.
Hint: You can also twist the strands towards each other, instead of away from each other. It will create slightly different, but equally eye-catching design!
Cover the star bread with clean, damp tea towel or cloth and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170°C (160°C fan).
Brush your star bread with egg wash and bake it for 20 minutes, until it turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before dusting it with some icing/ powdered sugar. Serve straight away, while it is still warm.
When making this Christmas star bread recipe, you can use any type of jam or spread. Here are few ideas on how to change this recipe and what other fillings you can try it with:
- Cinnamon butter - Instead of raspberry jam, spread the soft butter on top of each disc, then sprinkle each layer with cinnamon sugar (mix about 70g of soft light brown sugar with a tablespoon ground cinnamon). You could also use ground cardamom instead of cinnamon (or any of your favourite spices!).
- Nutella - Use the spread instead of jam. Make sure the texture of Nutella is soft and spreadable (microwave it for few seconds.
- Your favourite curd - Any type of citrus or fruit curd will be delicious too! Here's the recipe for my Homemade Lemon Curd.
- Add crushed nuts to the filling - Chop any of your favourite nuts into smaller pieces and sprinkle on top of your choice of filling.
- Add fresh or dried fruit - You can use currants, raisins, candied citrus peel, cranberries, or any dried or fresh fruit along with the choice of filling.
- Garlic butter - Put a savoury twist on your star bread and use garlic butter as your filling. You can also add a sprinkle of grated cheese into each layer, or on top.
- Basil pesto - Use homemade or shop-bought basil pesto (or any pesto) as a spread, sprinkle finely chopped sundried tomato and some cheese or favourite herbs on top.
Hint: If making a savoury version, make sure to reduce the amount of sugar in the dough to about 20 grams.
Here's the list of the equipment, which will help you succeed with this bake:
- Freestanding mixer with the hook attachment - although it is possible to knead the dough by hand, using the electric, freestanding mixer will make it much easier and quicker. If you don't have this type of mixer, knead the dough for 10-15 minutes by hand, until it is soft, elastic and stretchy.
- Baking sheet - You will need a medium to large baking sheet or baking tray lined with parchment paper to place the star bread on, while it bakes.
- Rolling pin - Any rolling pin can be used to roll the bread dough into circles.
- Pizza cutter - This item is optional, but it makes slicing of the dough easier. You can also use just a sharp knife instead.
This is a great recipe to prepare ahead of time, and you can do it in two different ways:
- Prepare the dough as per the recipe card and place it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge overnight (or up to 2 days). On the day of baking, remove the dough from the fridge, uncover it and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Continue as per the next step in the recipe.
- Prepare the dough, assemble it and shape into a star. Cover loosely with lightly greased clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash and bake as per the instructions in the recipe card.
This raspberry star bread tastes best while it is fresh, on the day it was made. You can store any leftovers covered, in the airtight container for 1-2 days.
You can also freeze the baked star bread for up to two months. Store it covered in the freezer, and thaw it overnight in the fridge. Warm it up in the oven heated to 150°C for 15 minutes.
Don't be scared to handle your dough. If the circles don't look perfectly round, that's OK. Use your hands to stretch and shape the dough.
It's much easier to transfer the dough circles from your working surface into the baking tray and on top of other layers, if you wrap them around your rolling pin. Gently unfold the dough from the rolling pin and place it on top of the baking tray or another layer.
What type of yeast is best to use in this recipe?
Any type of yeast will work, but the proving times may vary, depending on the type. I always use instant yeast, but fresh yeast or dried active yeast will also work. Dried active yeast will more likely require longer rising times.
Help! My dough is too sticky to work with!
Try adding a little bit more flour to it. It's OK for the dough to be a bit on a sticky side. If needed, add a tablespoon of flour at a time, until you have the right consistency.
Why my dough didn't rise?
This could be because your yeast is out of date, or the temperature in your kitchen is too cold. Place the dough in a warm place, and make sure your yeast is in date.
My star bread is catching colour too quickly in the oven. What do I do?
If your bake is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with kitchen foil in the oven.
Can I double this recipe?
I would recommend making the dough twice, instead of doubling the recipe.
Can I make two small star breads instead of one with this recipe?
Yes, you can. Split the dough into two, then divide each half into four pieces. Roll the smaller circles (about 15-20 cm in diameter) and add less filling between each layer. Adjust baking times accordingly (smaller bake will require less baking time).
Raspberry Star Bread
- Freestanding mixer with the hook attachment
- baking tray
- baking paper
- pizza cutter or sharp knife
- 7 g dried instant yeast
- 200 ml milk
- 60 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 225 g strong white bread flour *see notes for options
- 225 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting *see notes for options
- 70 g caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs yolks only
- 3 tablespoon raspberry jam *see notes for options
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar for dusting (optional)
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter until lukewarm. Remove from the heat and swirl the pan few times, to encourage the butter to melt. Once all the butter has melted completely, add the yeast and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes to activate the yeast (it should be slightly frothy on top after 5-10 minutes).
- In a bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with the hook attachment, mix together both flours, sugar and salt. Create a well in the middle, then add the egg yolks and pour in the milk and yeast mixture. Mix on low speed for a minute, then increase the speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes, until the dough comes together and it is smooth, soft and elastic.
- Transfer the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning it couple of times to lightly coat it in oil. Cover with cling film or clean kitchen towel and let it rise for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size (you can also place it in the fridge for the overnight rise at this point).
- Line the baking tray with baking paper and set aside. Lightly flour the work surface, and transfer the dough onto it. Gently punch the dough to release the air bubbles from it. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Use your hands to shape each piece it into rough circle, then use a rolling pin dusted in some flour, to roll each piece into a circle roughly about 30 cm in diameter (don't worry if they are not perfectly round). Place an upside down dinner plate or a bowl on top of the dough, and using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, trim off any excess dough, creating a neater circular shape. Remove any off-cuts.
- Transfer the first dough circle into prepared baking tray lined with baking paper. This is your bottom layer. Spread 1 tablespoon of the raspberry jam (or your filling of choice) over the surface. Layer the remaining dough circles and filling on top. The top layer will not have any filling on it, only 3 of the 4 circles will be topped with filling. Use your hands to stretch the dough layers, in case if they loose their shape.
- Place a small bowl or an upside down glass in a middle of your dough circle and make an indent. This is the centre of your star bread. Next, using the pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut 16 even strips (it's easier to slice it into 4, then each 4 in half, and each half into half again). Using both hands, grab two strips of the dough and twist them twice away from each other (the other way will also work), then press the both ends together to make a point. Your star bread should have 8 points.
- Cover the shaped bread with clingfilm or kitchen foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 175 C (160 C fan).
- Lightly brush the star bread with an egg wash and bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. If it starts browning too much, cover it with some kitchen foil for the last 5-10 minutes of baking.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Dust with some icing sugar and enjoy while warm.
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- Flour: You can use a mix of plain/ all purpose flour and strong white bread flour (50:50).
- You can also use only strong white bread flour (450g). The dough will not be as soft, but it will still taste delicious.
- You can also use only plain/ all purpose flour (450g). The dough will be more sticky and wet, so you may have to knead it / mix it for longer. You may also have to add some extra flour, if the dough is too sticky to work with. Make sure to add it in small amounts, one tablespoon at a time, until it comes together.
- Other fillings ideas: Nutella (make sure it has spreadable consistency), butter and cinnamon sugar, your favourite jam or spread, mixed nuts, dried fruit, etc.
- For the savoury version, reduce the sugar in the dough ingredients to 20g. Use your favourite pesto, tomato sauce, grated cheese and herbs for the filling.
- Make ahead instructions: Prepare the dough all the way until step 4 in the recipe card. Place in the fridge overnight, or for up to 2 days. Remove from the fridge, uncover it and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Continue as per the next step in the recipe.
- Or prepare the dough, assemble it and shape into a star. Cover loosely with lightly greased clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash and bake as per the instructions in the recipe card.
- Store any leftovers covered for up to 1-2 days.
- Freezing instructions: freeze the baked star bread for up to two months. Store it covered in the freezer, and thaw it overnight in the fridge. Warm it up in the oven heated to 150°C for 15 minutes.
This post was originally published in December 2020. It has been updated with the new photos, tips and revised recipe in November 2021.