Cinnamon Star Bread
The holidays can be a crazy, busy time. You can’t always get away from work when you need and if you do leave work early you know you’re going to have to stay late the next day to catch up. You have shopping to do, the streets are crowded, the mall is busy and that online store wants an extra fifteen dollars to express ship your item. You can only hope Frankie remembered to pick up Grandma from the airport because he isn’t answering his phone (mostly because he knows it’s you calling). … … … But, in the far recesses of your mind, you know that all of these stresses and worries will pass. You somehow instinctively know that at some point, everything will become calm again and order will be restored… … … And that’s the day we bake.
It seems odd that anyone would want to add any tasks to their already busy schedule (especially during the holidays) and that is why so many people go to the market and buy those cans of cinnamon rolls to serve at breakfast. You know the ones I mean, they come in a tube, which “pops” when it’s opened. But really folks, there is a better way. I ran across this recipe a while back on the King Arthur Flour Web site and decided to give it a try (you can view the original recipe here). I liked the look of it; it’s not just a bunch of small round cinnamon rolls on a plate, smeared with overly sugared “glaze”. This has character and a little joie de vivre. This actually looks like you made a huge effort to pull it together and yet, the whole thing is really very simple (you don’t have to tell anybody that).
If you have some folks visiting for the holidays, or you simply want to put out a little morning goodie for the family (or maybe it’s just you – that’s okay too) make this cinnamon star bread. I’ll walk you through it, no need to fret… As always, in baking, I prefer to weigh my ingredients but I have included the volume measurements as well in the recipe. If you have a scale though, use it for best results! You will need a few ingredients that unless you’re a regular baker you may not have in your cupboard, which are potato flour and nonfat dry milk but you can get those easily at the supermarket. If you can’t find potato flour just buy a box of instant mashed potatoes, I know that sounds weird but it’s practically the same thing and to be honest that’s what I use. An instant read thermometer would be helpful when determining if its fully baked and you’ll need a rolling pin as well. Oh, and I used my stand mixer to knead the dough but you can that by hand if you want. Other than that, some parchment paper and a sheet pan to bake on is all you’ll really need.
Let’s do it, already!
For the Dough
8½ ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1⅝ ounces (¼ cup) potato flour or (½ cup) instant mashed potato flakes
1¼ ounces (¼ cup) nonfat dry milk
7 to 8 ounces (¾ to 1 cup) lukewarm water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant yeast
⅞ ounce (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
For the Filling
1 large egg, beaten
3½ ounces (½ cup) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
A note to start: If you are using potato flour be sure to pass the AP flour, the potato flour and the dry milk through a strainer to prevent lumps in the dough. If you are using the instant mashed potatoes, there is no need to sift.
With that in mind…
Add all of the dough ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook attachment. Start the mixer on low speed, increasing the speed to medium high as the ingredients combine. Allow the mixer to knead the dough about 5 minutes or so after the sides of the bowl come clean or until you have a soft smooth dough. You can make the dough by hand if you desire just mix the ingredients in a large bowl until combined then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is soft and smooth.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl turning the dough so all sides are lightly coated with oil then cover the bowl and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it's almost doubled in size.
While the dough rises mix together the sugar and the cinnamon and set aside.
When the dough has risen, divide it into four equal pieces (they will be about 5¾ ounces each) then roll each piece into a ball. Cover the balls with plastic wrap, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll one ball of dough into a 10-inch circle. Try to get this circle as round as you can, as it will make things really simple for the remaining layers.
Place the circle of dough onto a piece of parchment paper, brush a thin coat of the beaten egg onto the surface, then sprinkle (in an even layer) ⅓ of the cinnamon-sugar mix, leaving a ¼-inch border of clean dough around the edge.
Roll out a second circle the same size as the first, and place it on top of the filling-covered circle. The circle may not be the exact same shape but just match the edges of the first circle and you’ll be fine (that’s why the first circle is the important one). Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar just like the first layer. Repeat this process (dough, egg wash, cinnamon-sugar), leaving the top circle bare.
Place a biscuit or cookie cutter (or any light, round object), which is about 2½ to 3-inches round in the center of the completed dough circle to use as a guide, then use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 16 equal strips starting from the edge of the cookie cutter towards the outer edge of the dough, cutting through all the layers.
Next, using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips and twist them away from each other twice (so that the top side is facing up again). Then repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips. You can get rid of the cookie cutter guide at this point.
Pinch together, at the edge of the dough, the pairs of strips so as to create a star-like shape with eight points.
Transfer the star, still on the parchment paper, to a baking sheet and cover it lightly with plastic wrap and let it rise until it becomes puffy, about 45 minutes.
While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Finally, brush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg and bake it for 12 to 15 minutes. To be sure it has baked all the way through use an instant read thermometer which should read 200°F when inserted into the center. If the bread is getting too brown before it’s finished, you can place a piece of aluminum foil on top to help keep it from getting too dark.
Take your star from the oven when it’s done and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before placing it on your serving platter, delivering it to the table, Dusting the top with powdered sugar in a semi-flamboyant fashion, as if to show everyone you have done this hundreds of times before, and allow everyone to serve themselves (after the obligatory ooh’s and ah’s)
I can’t imagine any of it will be left over but you can store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for several days or freeze if you need longer storage.
Hands down, this cinnamon star bread beats the packaging off those grocery store cinnamon rolls – even without the icing. And for those of you, who want icing… well, mix some powdered sugar with just a little milk until you get the correct consistency and drizzle to your hearts content.