Apart from my first choice of being an extremely successful full-time writer, I think that my ideal job right now would be a paid internship in a bakery. I’m serious. I think it would be fun, and beneficial to my baking education.
It’s not that I think I’m a shabby baker. I know that I’m not. But as much as I love to bake, I still feel like there’s just so much more that I have to learn.
I’m not huge into food science, but I would very much like to learn about what ingredients and methods make certain bakes turn out the way that they do, and why. Sometimes I’ll have a baking disaster for what appears to be no good reason, even after I’ve followed the recipe down to the letter. It’d be nice to have the know-how to avoid that from happening. I’d also love to train under a baker whose specialty was breads. I’m not too bad at it now, but I’ve seen some UNBELIEVABLE shaped breads that come out of East European bakeries and they make want to get better at my shaping so badly.
Fortunately, today’s recipe features some bread shaping that’s pretty easy to do.
I made my first star bread two years ago for the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas back in 2016. I was thrilled, not only with how it turned out but how easy it was to create such a pretty and delicious loaf. I knew that I was going to want to try it again. Two years later, and here we are on the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas 2018, and I tried it again albeit with some minor changes.
I said back then that there were numerous possibilities for different fillings to experiment with on this bread, including fruit spread. For my second try I decided to take my own advice and put that to the test, where I used the recipe for my favorite cranberry sauce for the filling. I also added orange zest to the dough to give it extra flavor. I’ll be honest; I don’t think the shaping for this year’s star didn’t turn out as well as it did the first time around. It more resembles a snowflake to me than a star, but I do still think it’s a relatively pretty thing to look at. I do know one thing: it’s absolutely delicious.
Aaaaand, alrighty then. I guess that’s a wrap. I’d like to thank each and every one of you who’ve been following along with me for the 12 Days of Christmas series. A lot of work gets put into this and aside from loving to bake, I do also love being able to spread a little bit of holiday cheer on my chunk of webspace. If I can spread some into your homes by encouraging you to try anything I’ve made, it’s even more rewarding. Regardless of what or whether you celebrate or not, I hope you all have a wonderful, delicious holiday. I’ll list all of the recipes made for this years’ series one more time just in case you wanted to check them out. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all!
DAY 12: ORANGE CRANBERRY STAR BREAD
Cranberry Orange Star Bread
- 3/4 cup + 2 to 4 tablespoons lukewarm water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
- 1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
- 1 generous tablespoon of orange zest
- 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
- About one generous 3/4 cup of your favorite cranberry sauce recipe, or any jam you like
In a medium size bowl combine the flour, orange zest, nonfat dry milk, potato flour or instant potato flakes and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer combine the water and yeast. Sprinkle the sugar on top. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes, until frothy.
Using the whisk attachment mix in the butter. Switch to the dough attachment and gradually fold in the flour mixture, kneading until a smooth dough forms, about 10-12 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Allow to rest for 1– 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.
Cut dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover them and let rest for 15 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of the dough into a 10 inch circle. Place this circle on a piece of parchment and use a spatula to spread approximately 1/4 cup of cranberry sauce or jam on top of the dough. Spread it evenly and don’t lay it on too thick, leaving about 1 inch “jam-less” along the outside edge. Set the parchment nearby.
Take a second piece of the dough and repeat the process, placing on top of the completed disc. Repeat with the others, LEAVING THE TOP DISC BARE.
Place a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cutter 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.
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.
Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover the star with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel 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. Bake it for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s nicely golden; the center should register 200°F on a digital thermometer. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.