Almost a Nutella babka but in star or snowflake shape, this star bread could be the centre of your holiday breakfast, brunch or dessert table. An absolute showstopper, this pull apart bread is fun too and totally irresistible.

Since making this chiko-roll inspired sunburst bread an age ago, I’d always wanted to create a sweet version. Using my cinnamon roll dough as the base, here she is.

A star shaped bread on a sheet of baking paper

The bread is soft and fluffy and a little sweet. It tastes a little like brioche dough though a little lighter on the butter. Nutella between the layers keeps it simple but such a delicious treat.

It might look intricate and difficult but I promise it’s anything but. The dough is easy to throw together, and the design is actually very simple when you know how. The hardest part is waiting for the bread to rise.

Often called snowflake bread, the aroma of this fresh from the oven will fill your home and the second hardest part is serving it up before you grab your own piece. Dust it with icing sugar (powdered sugar) and watch it disappear in front of your eyes.

A star shaped bread on a sheet of baking paper with a grey tea towel nearby

Ingredients for Nutella star bread

You’ll find obvious baking ingredients like flour, eggs, butter and sugar but I’ll elaborate on a couple of ingredients below.

Ingredients for nutella star bread
Ingredients for star bread
  • Yeast: You’ll need instant or active dry yeast here. Both work fine and it’s very simple to use.
  • Salt: Only a touch and it balances out the sweetness while intensifying the flavours.
  • Nutella: I used Nutella just because that’s what I keep in my pantry but most chocolate hazelnut spreads will work.
  • Milk: Using full fat dairy milk will give the best flavour but other types of milk will work.  

Handy tools to have

  • Stand mixer: Whilst not absolutely necessary, it does make kneading the dough easier.
  • A round 12 inch dish of some kind: this is so you can cut perfect dough circles all the same size. I use a pizza tray.

How to make it

There is just a few steps and one main rise with this star bread recipe. I’ve made this as simple as I can so you can get it made and be devouring it as soon as possible.

6 images showing dough being made in a glass bowl, the rolled out
Making and layering the dough
  1. Make the dough: Melt some butter with just a little milk then combine all the dough ingredients in a bowl (image 1). Use the dough hook on the stand mixer (if you have one) to knead it to a smooth, elastic dough (image 2) – you can definitely do this by hand too – and then let it rise (image 3).
  2. Layer the dough: Cut the dough into 4 pieces (image 4) and roll them out to roughly 12 inch disks. Spread Nutella on 3 of them (image 5), then layer them up with the top one having no Nutella. Place a 12 inch round dish or tray on top and cut around to get a smooth circle (image 6).
6 images showing how to shape star bread
Cutting and shaping the star bread
  1. Shape the star: place a ramekin in the centre, then make 4 cuts from the ramekin to the edge (image 7), equal distance apart so the dough is quartered. Now cut each of those quarters in half (image 8) (now you have 8 slices). Cut each of the 8 pieces in half (image 9) and now you have 16 strands. Grab the ends of two of the strands and twist them twice (image 10), away from each other. Twist them a third time just enough to bring the ends together (image 11) and press together into a point (image 12).
Star bread dough on a baking tray
Resting the star bread
  1. Rest then bake: Rest the bread for about 30 minutes (images 13 & 14 – before and after resting), then brush with beaten egg and bake for 22 minutes.

You can enjoy this bread fresh from the oven. I like to let it cool just slightly and dust it with icing sugar first but you can eat it without.

This would also be lovely served up as a dessert with some créme anglaise poured over.

Making the dough ahead

You can make the dough ahead of time, giving you less to worry about closer to serving.

Once the dough has been kneaded, place it in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap and into the fridge for 1-2 days. It will slow rise in the fridge which actually develops the dough flavour even more.

On the day you want to serve it, take it out the fridge and let it come to room temperature (about 1 hour) before proceeding with the recipe.

You can also freeze the dough at the same point. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before proceeding as above.

A piece of a pull apart nutella bread on a white plate

Tips and tricks

  • Don’t overheat the milk: You want it to be warm to the touch but not hot. If you have a thermometer you want the temp to be 43C / 110F. If you don’t, a low tech way is to melt the butter and 1/3 of the milk together in a small saucepan over very low heat. Swirl it constantly until melted, then add the rest of the cold milk.
  • Pinch the tips tightly: Make sure the points of the star are pinched together nice and tight so they don’t break apart during baking.
  • Heat the Nutella: It’s tricky to spread on the soft dough straight from the jar as it pulls at it and ruins the shape so heat it for 15-20 seconds first to make it more spreadable.
  • Twist 2 at a time: In the images I twisted all of the strands first but it’s actually easier to see what you’re doing if you just do two at a time, one in each hand, twisting away from each other.

How to customise this recipe

Maybe you aren’t a fan of Nutella or you just want to try something different. Other star bread fillings ideas are;

  • Cinnamon Roll: Try the filling from my pecan cinnamon rolls (with or without the nuts).
  • Chocolate: Make it more like a babka with the filling from my chocolate cinnamon rolls.
  • Caramel Apple: try the filling from these caramel apple cinnamon rolls.
  • Peanut butter and jelly: Add a mix of peanut butter and jam between the layers.
  • Jam: Use some strawberry or raspberry jam for stunning twist
  • Orange: rub the zest of a large orange through 1/2 cup of sugar. Mix in 3 tablespoons of softened butter and spread that over.

What to do with leftovers

I’ll be surprised if you have any but you can store this in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days. Give the pieces a 12 second burst in the microwave to fluff the bread again before eating.

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A hand reaching in to pull out a piece of star bread

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A star shaped bread on a sheet of baking paper with a grey tea towel nearby

Nutella Star Bread

5 from 1 vote
Soft, fluffy bread laced with Nutella, this Nutella Star Bread is a stunning holiday breakfast, brunch or dessert. This pull apart star bread recipe can be customised too – try cinnamon roll, jam or peanut butter and jelly.

Ingredients

  • 57 g unsalted butter (¼ cup / 2oz)
  • 1 cup cold milk (250ml)
  • 455 g plain (all purp) flour (3 ½ cups / 1lb)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant or active dry yeast (1 sachet / 7g) (notes)
  • cup white granulated sugar (66g / 2.3oz)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup Nutella
  • Icing sugar (powdered sugar) for dusting

Equipment

  • stand mixer with dough hook is helpful
  • 12 inch round tray or serving dish

Instructions
 

MAKING THE DOUGH

  • In a small saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter and roughly one third of the milk. Stir or swirl constantly to melt without overheating. Add the remaining cold milk and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or see notes), add the flour, yeast, sugar and salt then give it a mix up.
  • Pour in the warm milk mixture and egg, then stir with a spoon to a shaggy dough.
  • Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and mix the dough for 6-7 minutes until smooth and elastic looking. See notes for kneading by hand.
  • Brush a clean bowl with a little oil then place the dough into it. flip it over so that has a coating of oil all over. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

ASSEMBLING THE STAR BREAD

  • Cut the dough into 4 even pieces. Roll one out, transfer it a large tray lined with baking paper, then spread over ¼ cup of Nutella.
  • Roll out the second piece, place it on top of the first and spread another ¼ cup of Nutella. Repeat with the third.
  • Roll out the last piece and place it on top without adding any Nutella.
  • Place a small ramekin (3-4 inches wide) in the centre of the dough.
  • Make 4 evenly spaced cuts from the ramekin to the edge of the dough (so it looks like 4 slices connected in the middle. Cut each of the four sliced in half, then repeat so you have 16 slices in total.
  • Take the ends of two of the strands, one in each hand, and twist them away from each other twice. Twist a third time only until the flat sides meet, then press the ends into a point (see the post for images).
  • Repeat with the rest of the strands, then cover lightly with a sheet of plastic wrap and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160 fan forced.
  • Bake the bread for 22 minutes, turning after 11, until golden all over.
  • Let it cool a few minutes before dusting with icing sugar. Best served warm.

Notes

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons worldwide)
  2. All ovens vary – always test for doneness 3-5 minutes before the recipe suggests
  3. For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
  4. Yeast: You can use instant or active dry yeast. If you use rapid rise, your dough may double in size quicker.
  5. By hand: You can make the dough without a stand mixer, just make sure to knead until it is smooth and elastic – about 10-12 minutes.
  6. Star bread is best eaten fresh but will keep in an airtight container 2-3 days. Warm the individual pieces for 10-15 seconds in the microwave to fluff the bread up again.
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