Cinnamon Star Bread
Isn't that one of the prettiest breads you've ever seen? Your family (guests?) will be wowed. Want to know a secret? It's super easy. Even better, once you've tried it once, you can changed the filling to suit your tastes. Add chocolate, Nutella, or swap in a different nut. The dough itself is not sweet (and dairy-free!) so you can go savory with tapenade or pesto. Super versatile and so very tasty.
I baked the whole bread and then froze it to serve on a busy holiday morning. It tasted amazing.
Cinnamon Star Bread
2 cups water heated to 110 degrees
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
4 1/2 cup s all-purpose flour (or 2 cups white wheat flour + 2 1/2 cups ap)
3/4 cu p instant potato flakes
2 1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup (99g) sugar*
1 tablespoon cinnamon
small pinch salt
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
Flaky salt, like Maldons, optional
Make the dough:
Whisk water, oil, sugar, and yeast in liquid measuring cup until yeast dissolves. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, potato flakes, and 1½ teaspoons salt until combined. With mixer on low, add water mixture in steady stream and mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 6 minutes.
Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball. Transfer dough to lightly greased large bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough has doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
You can also put the dough in the fridge at this point, and let it proof overnight. If you do this, let it rest at room temperature for an hour before shaping; the second proof will take longer.
When ready to shape:
Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover the balls, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
Crack your egg into a small container, add vanilla and whisk lightly to blend. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring to blend. Set both aside.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll one piece of dough into a 10" circle. Place the circle on a piece of parchment, brush a thin coat of beaten egg mixture on the surface, then evenly sprinkle with 1/3 of the cinnamon-sugar, leaving 1/4" of bare dough around the perimeter. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnuts on top of the cinnamon.
Roll out a second circle the same size as the first, and place it on top of the filling-covered circle. Repeat the layering process - egg, cinnamon sugar, dough circle - leaving the top circle bare.
Place a 2 1/2" to 3" round cutter or small cup in the center of the dough circle as a guide. With a bench knife or sharp knife, cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layers. This works easiest to cut the round into quarters, and then each quarter into quarters.
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. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.
Pinch the pairs of strips together to create a star-like shape with eight points. Remove the cutter.
Slide the star with the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover the star with lightly greased plastic wrap and let it rise until it becomes noticeably puffy, about 45 minutes.
While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Brush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg. Sprinkle the star lightly with flaky salt, if desired. Bake it for 15 to 20 minutes, until it's nicely golden with dark brown cinnamon streaks; the center should sound hollow when tapped and register 200°F on a digital thermometer.
Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.