Sourdough Star Bread

Are you looking for a showstopper bread? This sourdough star bread is the one. Flaky layers of dough, filled with cinnamon and sugar and made with 100% sourdough or natural yeast. Sourdough star bread not only tastes amazing, it makes any table look festive and fun. This star bread recipe checks all the boxes: beautiful, delicious and fun to make. I hope you love it!

Important Ingredients in Sourdough Star Bread

  • Sourdough Starter: Use an active/ripe sourdough starter (doubled in size/bubbly/mild sour aroma) to mix the levain.
  • All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour works well for this recipe to keep it soft and tender. This star bread is more pastry-like than bread-like. If you prefer a more springy star bread, use bread flour instead of all-purpose (and decrease the flour a little bit).
  • Unsalted Butter: I always bake with unsalted butter. Unsalted butter allows me to control the flavor in my baked goods — there is no standard for the amount of salt in salted butter, which makes using salted butter a little unpredictable.
  • Potato Flakes: Use good quality potato flakes that only have potato in them. Potato flakes make this star bread extra tender and soft. If you don’t want to use potato flakes, see the recipe note to adjust the recipe and leave them out.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar is used to sweeten the dough, and a combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar is used in the star bread filling.
  • Spices: Ground cinnamon and allspice give the dough a warm and festive flavor.

Sample Sourdough Schedule for Sourdough Star Bread

A sample baking schedule helps me when baking with sourdough. Sourdough takes much longer to rise than traditional bread. This schedule helps me plan my bake. A note: This schedule assumes the dough temperature is 78 ºF throughout the process.

Day 1Levain
8 PM – 8AMMake Stiff Sweet Levain. Let rise overnight.
Day 2Mixing/Bulk Fermentation
8 AMMix Dough
8:15 AMBegin Bulk Fermentation (4-5 hours at 78 degrees F)
1:00 PMEnd Bulk Fermentation
Option 1: Shape sourdough star bread
Option 2: Refrigerate dough and shape the next morning
1:00 PM – 1:20 PMShape Sourdough Star Bread
1:20 PM – 4:20 PMProof
4:30 PMBake and Enjoy!

How to Make Sourdough Star Bread

Mixing the Levain

One of the reasons I advocate for making a levain instead of using straight sourdough starter is in cases like this star bread or these sourdough cinnamon rolls. Maintaining a sourdough starter at 100% hydration makes it easy for me to create a stiff sweet levain when I need it for an enriched dough.

A stiff levain is a levain that mixes up to a firm consistency and is anywhere from 50%-65% hydration. It adds elasticity to dough and helps temper the acid in the sourdough, which gives all the benefit of sourdough fermentation without the tang. The sugar in the levain helps counteract the acidity and creates a more mild flavor. My sometimes picky kids are especially grateful for this! To make a stiff sweet levain:

  • Use 100% hydration sourdough starter at its peak
  • Add 10 grams of ripe sourdough starter to 50 grams of all-purpose flour, 25 grams of water and 10 grams of sugar. Mix together.
  • A stiff levain will be a little more difficult to mix together, because it forms a dough ball instead of a batter. Knead the ball of dough a few times until smooth.
  • Place the stiff sweet levain in a liquid measuring cup and set in a warm (76-78 degree F) spot for 10-12 hours.
  • Stiff sweet levain is ready to use when it has doubled or tripled in size and has a rounded top. Using it right when it reaches its peak will help decrease the acidity in the dough. A stiff levain spends more time at its peak, giving you more time to use it.

Mixing Up the Sourdough Star Bread Dough

I use a Bosch mixer to mix and knead this dough. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use your hands, though it will take longer. Add all the dough ingredients to the mixer and fit it with a dough hook. Reserve a little bit of the flour to add toward the end of mixing the dough as needed. Weight measurements are always more accurate than volume, but I always like to reserve a bit of flour (about a half cup) so I don’t over-flour my dough. Mix the dough on low speed for about 3-5 minutes. Add the reserved flour as needed. The dough should be tacky, not overly sticky. Continue kneading about 5 more minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a container or bowl for bulk fermentation.

Bulk Fermentation

Bulk fermentation is the name for when the dough ferments in one big mass. Put the dough in a container and cover it. The entire bulk fermentation should take about 4-5 hours at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Take the temperature of the dough, it should be between 76-78 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dough is significantly colder, bulk fermentation will take longer. If it’s warmer, the bulk fermentation will be a bit shorter, however wild yeast perform best in the 76-78 degree F range, so do your best to keep the dough in that range. I use a dough proofer or the inside of my oven with the light turned on (don’t turn the oven on!) to keep my dough warm. By the end of 4-5 hours, the dough should have puffed up and risen a bit but will not have doubled in size.

Optional Cold Bulk Fermentation: After the bulk fermentation you can put the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. After 24 hours, shape the dough into the star and proceed with the recipe. This can help you time your bake if you want to bake it in the morning.

Assembling Sourdough Star Bread

Before you begin assembling the sourdough star bread, just know that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It is difficult to roll out dough into an even circle. Just do your best. It will look beautiful once you make the cuts and twist the dough. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix up the cinnamon sugar filling. Melt the butter in a separate dish. You are ready to start!

Cut the dough into 4 sections.

Use a rolling pin to roll each section of dough to about 10 inches round. Set aside.

Place the first 10 inch round of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet. Spread with melted butter and top with 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Add the next circle of dough on top of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Stretch the dough a little as needed without tearing it. Add more butter and cinnamon sugar. Repeat this process until you have three layers of dough and three layers of butter/cinnamon/sugar. Place the last circle of dough on the top and pinch together the edges of the circle.

Place a 3 inch cup in the middle of the circle. Press down so you see a circular indentation. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into quarters. Then cut each quarter in half and then in half again until you have 16 equal-sized pieces.

Take two pieces adjacent to each other and twist one counterclockwise and one clockwise (away from each other), 3-4 times. Then pinch the ends together and set them so they form a point on the parchment paper. Repeat until you have an 8 point star.

Proofing the Sourdough Star

Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it proof in a warm 78 to mid 80 degree F place for 3-4 hours. If your dough is warmer, this process will go faster. If it’s cooler, this will take longer. During this time the dough will puff up and become aerated and soft. You may not notice a huge rise, but the dough itself will puff up and feel very light and soft.

Baking Sourdough Star Bread

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the dough with egg wash and then bake for about 18-20 minutes until golden. Dust with powdered sugar or whip up a sweet glaze if desired. Enjoy warm!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I store leftover sourdough star bread?

This bread is best eaten within 24 hours. After that, freeze for up to a month. When you go to eat it again, make sure to warm it up a little to make the bread soft again.

Can I use a different filling for sourdough star bread?

Yes! The possibilities are endless. I think a nutella or jam version would be delicious.

Do I have to top star bread with powdered sugar?

No. I like the look and the added sweetness from a dusting of powdered sugar. You could also top with a glaze or use the icing from my sourdough cinnamon rolls.

How sweet is sourdough star bread?

This star bread is sweet but not too sweet. If you want a sweeter bread, you can double the filling ingredients and add a glaze instead of dusted powdered sugar.

Sourdough Star Bread

Amy
Festive, fun and delicious, this sourdough star bread makes the perfect show-stopper centerpiece for a holiday celebration. Sourdough star bread is a pastry filled with cinnamon sugar and warm spices. Made with 100% natural yeast, this star bread tastes delicious and looks incredible.
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Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Fermentation Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour
Course Bread
Servings 1 10 inch star

Ingredients
  

Stiff Sweet Levain (overnight levain or ready in about 10 hours at 78 degrees F)

  • 10 grams ripe/active starter
  • 10 grams sugar
  • 25 grams water
  • 50 grams flour

Sourdough Star Bread

  • 90 grams ripe/peaked levain
  • 165 grams whole milk warmed, about 2/3 cup
  • 60 grams unsalted butter, melted substitute melted butter if desired, about 1/4 cup
  • 45 grams granulated sugar about 3 Tablespoons
  • 1 large egg about 50 grams
  • 350 grams all-purpose flour about 2 1/2 cups
  • 6 grams salt about 1 teaspoon
  • 20 grams potato flakes see recipe notes

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  • 60 grams brown sugar about 1/4 cup
  • 40 grams white sugar about 1/4 cup
  • 6 grams ground cinnamon about 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 gram allspice or cloves about 1/4 teaspoon
  • 45 grams unsalted butter melted, about 3 Tablespoons

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 5 grams milk about 1 teaspoon

Powdered Sugar for dusting

    Instructions
     

    Levain (10-12 hours, overnight 76-78 degrees F)

    • Mix together ripe sourdough starter, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar and water. Knead the levain until it forms a cohesive ball. Set in a liquid measuring cup or glass jar and cover for 10-12 hours until the levain has doubled in size and the top is rounded.

    Sourdough Star Bread

    • Warm the milk in the microwave (about 1 1/2 minutes full power) or on the stove. It should be around 90-100 degrees F, no warmer than that. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the ripe levain, warmed milk, melted butter, egg, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, salt and potato flakes.
    • Turn on the dough hook and knead for a few minutes. The dough should be tacky, not overly sticky and should all cling to one side of the bowl (or away from the edges depending on your mixer). Knead for a total of 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too sticky, add a little extra flour a Tablespoon at time. If it's too dry, add a little extra milk to the dough a Tablespoon at a time.
    • Bulk Fermentation: Put the dough in a container and cover. Set the dough in a warm, 78-80 degree F place for 4 hours. Take the temperature of the dough as needed to make sure it stays right around 78 degrees F. This temperature is the optimal fermentation.
    • At the end of about 4-5 hours, the dough should be puffed up and feel very elastic. If it doesn't feel this way, let it bulk ferment for another half hour and check again. It will not have doubled in size but will feel aerated and smooth.
    • Overnight Refrigeration: At this point, after the bulk fermentation has finished, cover the dough and put it in the refrigerator. Proceed with the recipe the next day, shaping and proofing the star bread before baking. This allows you time to serve the sourdough star bread for breakfast or brunch. If you prefer to shape the star bread and bake it the same day, skip the overnight refrigeration and proceed with the recipe.
    • Mix up the Filling: Near the end of bulk fermentation, mix up the star bread filling. To a small bowl, melt the butter. Set it aside. Mix together the brown sugar, white sugar, ground cinnamon and allspice. Set aside.
    • Shaping: Cut the dough into 3 or 4 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece of dough out into an even 10 inch circle. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place the first circle of dough on top of the parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with the butter until it is covered. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the butter. Place the next circle of dough on top of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Stretch it out a little bit if it's shrunk so it is the same size as the bottom layer. Repeat the process of brushing with butter and then sprinkling with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place another circle of dough on top of the mixture, stretching it out as needed. Brush with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Top with the last piece of dough. Pinch the edges closed.
    • Place a 3 inch circular cup or jar in the center of the dough and press down lightly. Take a sharp knife and cut the dough into quarters, barely cutting into the area marked by the cup. Cut the quarter sections in half and then cut in half again until you have 16 equal cut sections of dough.
    • Take two pieces of dough that are next to each other and twist 3 or 4 times in the opposite direction (one counter clockwise and one clockwise). Pinch the ends together and set them down to form a point. Repeat with the other sections of dough until you have an 8-point star.
    • Proofing: Cover the star bread with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let the sourdough star rest in a warm (78-80 degree F) place for about 3-4 hours until puffed up, light and airy. Do not bake this unless it has puffed up and is very soft and aerated.
    • Pre-heat Oven: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
    • Egg Wash: Right before baking, whisk together the egg and milk. Use a pastry brush to brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash.
    • Bake: Bake at 375 degrees F for about 18-20 minutes until golden.
    • Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Potato Flakes: Choose good quality potato flakes for this recipe. I like this brand which only has dehydrated potato in it. If you prefer to make the recipe without the potato flakes, increase the flour to 375 grams and use 150 grams of warm milk instead. 
    Melted Butter: I’ve also used coconut oil in place of the melted butter. It makes a delicious and tender dough if you prefer to try that option
    Keyword cinnamon star bread, cinnamon sugar sourdough bread, cinnamon sugar sourdough star bread, festive sourdough bread, sourdough bread, sourdough bread recipe, sourdough star bread, sourdough star bread recipe
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    5 Comments

    1. Hi Amy, Thanks for posting this beautiful recipe! I want to try it for Christmas morning. Have you ever skipped the overnight refrigeration step, then shaped and refrigerated overnight? I’m wanting it to be the least hands on as possible Christmas morning. It would be nice to get it out of the fridge already shaped, let it warm up and raise, and then bake. Do you think that’s possible?

      1. I think you could do that. Just allow extra time for rising that morning because it will be going from the cold fridge and take longer to rise.

    2. I originally wanted to make this for Christmas, but we had too many sweet treats planned/made already.
      I made it last weekend for my birthday and it blew everyone away. It is amazing how such a simple process produces such an incredible result.
      Definitely eat it all on the same day, as we had 1 piece leftover and it wasn’t as good the next day. I think freezing it would keep it fresh for sure.