Getting Some Heat from a Star That Shines: Cinnamon Star Bread

I have always purchased yeast at the supermarket in those strips of three packets. But since I've been doing more yeast baking, I took the plunge and decided to buy a pound of SAF Gold Instant Yeast from King Arthur Flour. SAF Gold is specially formulated for sweet breads, which can be slow to rise because of their sugar content. A pound of yeast goes a long way. So I wasted no time in finding a way to put it to use and decided to try a King Arthur recipe for Cinnamon Star Bread.

This bread looks complicated, but it's not that difficult to bake -- really! The dough was easy enough to make in my Kitchenaid mixer -- I just threw in all of the ingredients (lukewarm water, all-purpose flour, softened butter, buttery sweet dough flavor, SAF Gold yeast, sugar, salt, baker's special dry milk, and potato flour) into the bowl and kneaded everything with a dough hook until it was smooth. After an hour rise, I divided the dough into four equal parts and let them rest for 15 minutes.

You roll out each portion of dough into a 10-inch circle. Then you brush some beaten egg and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top of one circle, stack on the next layer, and repeat with the remaining layers, leaving the top layer bare. You lay a cookie cutter in the middle of the assembled stack to use as a guide and make radial cuts from the edge of the cutter to the outside edge of the dough circles, forming 16 strips (if this is too difficult to visualize, check out the King Arthur Flour blog post on this recipe, which includes a lot of helpful photos). You twist each pair of adjacent strips away from each other and pinch the ends together to form an eight-armed star. After another rise and a brush of egg wash, the bread is ready to bake.
I loved the impressive finished shape of this bread. I brought it to a cousins' brunch that was sensibly scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday, so I had plenty of time to make the bread that morning. The first bite delivered a surprisingly strong dose of cinnamon. I had made my own cinnamon sugar by mixing together Penzey's Vietnamese cinnamon and granulated sugar in a 1:3 ratio by volume. Vietnamese cinnamon is the only cinnamon I use -- it has a deep, rich flavor, but it's also quite potent. In retrospect, I should have cut back the cinnamon-sugar ratio in this recipe to 1:4 or perhaps even less.

My cousin Cindy said that the bread reminded her of Big Red gum, and she meant it as a compliment. I love Wrigley's Big Red as much as the next person, but it's not the flavor I was aiming for with this bread -- I was hoping to get more of a cinnamon roll effect. Maybe a cinnamon roll-like frosting would have mellowed out the spice level a little, but then again, I think that adding any sort of glaze or frosting that might obscure the star design would defeat the point of making this bread in the first place.

The bread itself was soft and fluffy and I can't fault the recipe. I would absolutely make this bread again with a little less cinnamon. This is a gorgeous bread to admire and share.

Recipe: "Cinnamon Star Bread" from King Arthur Flour.


Louise said…
It looks really pretty. I bookmarked it for future use. Must have been pretty spicy to be compared to Big Red gum. I use SAF yeast too. I get it at my local Mennonite bulk store, along with too much other stuff. I recently made a couple babka.
Indeed! :) I absolutely love cinnamon and it was a little much even for me! I've been making good use of the SAF gold -- I spent basically all of Snowzilla making yeasted breads.