This impressive tear and share star bread is stunning and easy to make. Learn how to make shape star bread filled with a savory pesto of winter greens, evergreens, and oranges with tangy sourdough for a festive holiday loaf!
I surely have mentioned before that my youngest daughter and I are exceptionally huge fans of the the Great British Bake Off. We wait with great enthusiasm for each new series and delight in the creations of the immensely talented bakers.
My home grown skills are not likely to land me a spot before Paul and Prue (and I am American — details…), but every once in a while I set forth to do something (seemingly) extravagant in the kitchen. Something visually impressive. Something that has some wow factor.
A few of my more impressive creations to date such as my Douglas Fir Poached Pear and Frangipane tart, as decidedly sweet. This year, I wanted to do something savory.
Once the concept of a savory tear and share star bread filled with a savory pesto of winter kale, rosemary or fir needles, orange and pine nuts entered my mind, it was not an idea I could deny. And, as if on cue, my sourdough starter has develop a truly characteristic tang and ability to lift (for more on raising your own sourdough starter, see my friend Courtney’s post). So a savory sourdough star bread is born.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. #puns
While the bread itself carries the recipes, it would simply be bread without the savory pesto filling. In true Nitty Gritty tradition, I fully intended to use Douglas fir needles as the showstopper ingredient in this star bread, but I was invited to help trim back a massive rosemary plant right before I set about making this recipe. I find the flavor or rosemary and fir to offer my palate the same resinous pine-y notes, so one can use their choice of edible evergreen for this savory tear and share star bread recipe. With my red Russian kale still going strong in the garden, I decided to make it the main green of choice to serve as the back bone of this winter-y pesto. Pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, and orange zest round out the flavors and elevate this pesto to something really tasty.
How to Shape a Star Bread
What appears to the eye as a complicated pattern of twist and plaits, is actually rather easy to accomplish. Once the dough has proofed overnight, it can be lightly kneaded on a well floured surface and divided into four equally sized dough balls. Start by rolling one ball to the circle about 13″ in diameter, then place that round on a parchment lined pizza pan (I like this one). Then smear about one third of the pesto on the surface of the round, leaving about a 1/2″ margin around the circumference. Repeat this process, alternating dough rounds and pesto layers, until you have four layers of dough sandwiching three layers of pesto.
Now comes the (not so) tricky part.
In the center of the stacked dough rounds, place a small jelly jar. Make cuts through the dough layers to create four “wedges”, then dived each of those large wedges into four smaller wedges, radiating from the round center.
Quick math. That’s now 16 small edges.
Now the fancy part.
Take two neighbor wedges and twisted them away from each other two times, then pinch the ends together after twisting. Work you way around the dough, twisting and pinching, until you have eight twisty rays artfully radiating around the center.
If I can do it, so can you.
Before baking, brush with egg wash and liberally season with kosher or herbed sea salts.
This savory sourdough tear and share star bread is the perfect loaf to take to holiday gatherings. By virtue of its name, this star bread does not require cutting. The tender bread and the twisty layers tear easily, making this the perfect loaf to share with family and friends this holiday season.
Savory Sourdough Star Bread with Winter-y Pesto Filling
- 13" pizza pan
- 2 tablespoons well fed, active sourdough starters or one teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 cups whole milk warmed to about 100 degrees F
- 1 cup bread flour
The Rest of the Dough
- 4-5 cups bread flour
- 4 tablespoons butter melted
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
Winter-y Evergreen Pesto
- 1/2 cup pine nuts lightly toasted
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 cups lightly packed shredded kale
- 1/2 cup rosemary or fir needles
- 1 tablespoon orange yest
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
- 1/2+ cup extra virgin olive oil
To top the star bread
- kosher or herbed salts
- In a stand mixer or a large bowl, add you sourdough starter (or yeast), warmed milk and one cup bread flour. Mix well and set aside for 20 minutes.
- While mixing slowly add the melted butter and salt. Add flour until the dough is soft and elastic, and just barely beyond the point of being sticky.
- Knead for three to four minutes on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a large, generously oiled bowl, flipping once to make sure the entire surface on the dough is lightly coated in oil, and cover with plastic film or a cloth. Set aside in a draft free area and allow the dough to rise about 12-18 hours if using a sourdough starter (less so if using yeast), or until the dough ball is double in size.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, add toasted pine nuts, garlic, kale, rosemary or fir needles, orange zest, salt and Parmesan cheese. Process until the mixture is well chopped then start drizzling in olive oil until the mixture becomes are spreadable paste. Set aside.
- When the dough is doubled, gently punch dough and turn out onto a well floured work surface. Lightly knead dough and divide dough into four equally sized balls.
- Roll the first ball out into a circle about 13" in diameter (or to fit your pan). Line your pan with parchment paper, then transfer your first round to the pan. Smear the surface of the dough round with a generous about of pesto. Repeat rolling out the dough circles, stacking, and smearing with pesto until you have four dough layers sandwiching three layers of pesto.
- Place a jelly jar, round cookie cutter or cup in the middle of the dough circle to act as a guide. Divide into four quadrants, then divide each quadrant into four wedges until you have a total of 16 wedges radiating from the center. NOTE: use a sharp knife of pizza cutter to make your cuts as it will make the next step easier.
- Grab two neighboring wedges. Twist them away from each other twice (see video), then pinch ends together. Continue this around the circle until you have eight twisty "rays." Cover lightly with plastic film and set aside to rest for about 20-30 minutes. Preheat your over to 375 degrees.
- Before baking, brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle generously with kosher or herbed salts. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the bread is richly golden in color. Remove for oven and cool.