A couple weeks ago I posted a photo of this cranberry star bread on Instagram and suddenly my inbox exploded with messages. I’ll admit, I posted it because it was eye-catching, but GOODNESS GRACIOUS, I did not expect that much attention. Especially considering I kind of threw it together on a whim.
Don’t you just love when something looks impressive but doesn’t take that much effort?
Since so many people wanted to know how I made it, I asked Kylie to photograph the process for you. It’s much easier to just show you how it’s done than to try to explain.
The full recipe is at the bottom of this post if you want to skip the photo essay. Otherwise, buckle in. Let’s make some cranberry star bread for Christmas!
Step 1: Make the dough. Obviously. Also prepare a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with either parchment paper or a nonstick silicone liner.
Step 2: After it has rested for 10-20 minutes, divide it into 4 equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough into a circle just smaller than width of the pan.
Step 3: Spread cranberry sauce evenly over the dough, leaving an inch or so bare along the edge of the circle. Sprinkle with orange zest. (This is optional, but don’t you think orange + cranberry is such a Christmassy flavor combination? I love it!)
Step 4: Repeat steps 2 + 3 with two more sections of dough, placing each circle on top of the previous one.
Roll out and place the last bit of dough on top and leave bare. You should have a stack of 4 dough rounds with cranberry sauce sandwiched between each.
Step 5: Place a lightweight circular object (I used a small funnel) in the center of your dough circles. Using a sharp knife, quarter your dough sandwich by gently cutting through all four layers of dough from the edge of the object to the edge of the dough. Leave the center (under your round object) uncut. If you’re using a silicone liner, be VERY careful not to cut through it! Those things are expensive!
Step 6: Continue cutting your dough until it looks like a wheel with an uncut center hub and 16 spokes.
Step 7: This is the fun part! Pick up two “spokes” and twist them toward each other twice, then pinch the ends together.
(Guys! I made a gif! OF ME! I am ridiculously excited about this.)
Repeat with all the pieces until it looks more or less like this:
Step 8: Let rise for 20-30 minutes, then bake. Brush the hot bread with melted butter. Once it has cooled slightly, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Pretty right? I love how perfectly imperfect it is. Fancy but not so fancy you’d feel bad stuffing it in your face, y’know?
What are you waiting for? Grab some flour and a can of cranberry sauce and get to baking!
Christmas Cranberry Star Bread
Adapted from Taste of Home
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk (approximately 110°F)
1 large egg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
1/2 can of cranberry sauce
zest of one orange (optional)
1-2 Tbsp melted butter
In a small bowl, proof yeast in warm milk until foamy (about 5 minutes). In a large bowl, beat together egg, butter, and sugar. Add yeast mixture and 1 cup of flour, and beat until incorporated. Add 2 cups of flour 1/2 cup at a time, beating until smooth. Using your hands, work in remaining flour until dough is soft and barely sticky. Knead either in the bowl or on a floured surface for 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put dough back in bowl, cover with a towel, and let rest for 10-20 minutes.
Prepare a large sheet pan with a nonstick silicone liner or parchment paper. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. On a well-floured surface, roll one piece of dough into a circle just smaller than your prepared pan. Place dough circle on pan. Spread 1/3 of the cranberry sauce over the dough, leaving about an inch around the edge bare. Sprinkle with orange zest if desired.
Repeat with 2 more pieces of dough: roll out a circle, place on top of the previous circle of dough, spread with cranberry sauce and zest. Roll final piece of dough into a circle and place on top of the other circles. You should now have a stack of four dough layers with cranberry sauce sandwiched between each.
Place a lightweight circular object (a cookie cutter, for example) in the center of your dough. Using a sharp knife, gently cut through all four layers of dough from the edge of the object to the edge of the dough. Leave the center (under your round object) uncut. Repeat around the circle, making 16 evenly spaced cuts. (It helps with spacing to start with 4 cuts—top, bottom, left, and right—then make the other cuts from there.) Remove your circular object.
Pick up two adjacent pieces of dough and gently twist them inward toward each other twice. (See photos above if you need a visual.) Pinch the edges together. Repeat with all 16 pieces. When you’re finished, you should have an 8-pointed star.
Cover dough with a towel and let rise for 20-30 minutes. While dough is rising, preheat over to 375°F. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush hot bread with melted butter, avoiding any areas where cranberry sauce is exposed. Cool for at least 15 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar.
Slice and serve.
All process photos by Kylie Pond Photography