How are you each spending the holiday today? Here in Minnesota, I am happy to be spending it with my family, decorating the Christmas tree, and thankful that it hasn’t snowed yet!
I love Thanksgiving for the same reasons most people do: a home-cooked meal shared with your friends and loved ones, laughter, good cheer, fun conversations, and the chance to do a little holiday baking. For me, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, and this is when I start looking at all the Christmas baking I’d like to do, including new recipes I want to try.
My collection of holiday recipes is a mixture of family treasures, my own creations, and recipes I have tried over the years. They are mostly founded in Scandinavian, Italian and German baking traditions. I started helping with the holiday baking when I was very young. I remember my mom making panettone and my grandma making her favorite dinner roll recipe, and the smell of baking bread filled the house. It was the most delightful perfume in the whole world to me. It meant a sense of excitement for the celebration that was to come, which for me was not about gifts, but being together with all my extended family. Helping my mom and grandma with their baking, even if in a small way, created a sense of the festive for me. Most likely my grandma learned her recipes from her mother, Genevieve. Genevieve had French roots, and my grandma’s father, Albert, was from Denmark. Together, Genevieve and Albert owned and managed a bed-and-breakfast by the scenic shores of a beautiful lake in Cordoba, and they had a pretty great repertoire of delicious breads and dishes to make for their guests. And how lucky that these recipes got handed down the generations so we can still enjoy them today!
Each year, I like to try something new. This year, I decided to try a star-shaped twisted bread. This bread is lightly sweet and swirled with lingonberry jam. It looks difficult but it is actually really simple to make. I used lingonberry instead, a classic Scandinavian flavor. Because lingonberries are similar to cranberries, tart, and very lightly sweet, this bread could actually be served for Thanksgiving too, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. You can also adapt the recipe for other occasions too, and use another kind of jam like raspberry or strawberry, or even Nutella if you’re a chocolate fan. In the future, I might like to create a savory version of this bread. But, for holiday baking, we know it’s all about sweets, so I stuck to lingonberry jam in the recipe below. I hope you will try the recipe and put a little bit of starry goodness on the table this December!
Star Twisted Bread
Prep time: 45 min. + 1 hour 30 minutes rising
Cook time: 20 minutes.
Servings: 16 servings. Makes 2 breads.
- 2¼ tsp active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit) with 1 teaspoon of sugar dissolved
- ¾ cup warm whole milk (110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 ¼ to 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup Lingonberry jam
- ¼ tsp cardamom
- confectioner’s sugar for decorating (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, adding the 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- In another bowl, combine milk, butter, egg, honey, and salt.
- In a large bowl, place 3 cups of flour. Create a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture and the milk, egg, butter and honey mixture.
- If using a KitchenAid mixer, beat on medium speed until smooth for about one minute. You can also whisk it manually.
- Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
- Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. About 1 hour. If you are making this recipe in steps, you can store the dough in the refrigerator overnight.
- After the dough has risen, punch dough down and turn onto a lightly-floured surface. Divide into 4 equal portions.
- Roll 1 portion into a 10-inch circle. Place on a round baking sheet or pizza pan covered with parchment paper.
- Stir the cardamom into the jam, mixing well.
- Spread 1/3 of the jam to within ½ inch of the edge of the circle.
- Repeat twice, layering dough and jam, ending with the final portion of dough. You should have 4 layers of dough with 3 layers of jam in between them.
- Place a 2-inch round cookie cutter in the middle of the top layer of dough. Don’t press down.
- With a sharp knife, make 16 evenly-spaced cuts from the cookie cutter to the edge of the dough, as if you were cutting a pie, only you are creating a starburst.
- Remove the cookie cutter and grasp two strips that are next to each other. Rotate twice outward in opposite directions. Pinch the ends together. Repeat with remaining strips until you form the star.
- Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.
- Bake for about 18-22 minutes at 375°F until golden brown. Watch during the final 5 minutes to prevent any jam dripping.
- Remove from the oven.
- If desired, brush bread with melted butter, avoiding areas where jam is visible. Cool bread completely. If desired, dust with confectioner’s sugar.