Christmas Morning Star Bread

a festive, decadent christmas morning star bread scented with orange and vanilla, topped with a rich pecan caramel sauce

servings: 8-10

  • Author: Kayla Howey



Christmas Star Bread

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp + ¾ tsp dry active yeast
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks (6 oz) butter, browned and cooled
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 3 ¾4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk, beaten
  • powdered sugar, for dusting


  • 2 sticks (8 oz) butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp orange zest
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • raw sugar, for baking

Pecan Caramel Sauce

  • 1 stick (4 oz) butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ tsp kosher salt



  1. Whisk the water and dry active yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the milk and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat for 10 minutes (the milk should just barely come to a simmer). Strain the milk.
  2. Add the milk, sugar, cooled brown butter, and eggs to the yeast mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract, almond extract, and orange zest.
  3. Add 3 ¾ cups of flour and salt to the wet ingredients. Using the dough attachment, mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add in a little bit more flour. Once the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball, you’ve added enough flour. Continue to mix for 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes longer. Flour the inside of the bowl and place the dough in there to rise. Cover with a damp towel and rise in a warm space for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.


  1. Mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, orange zest, and salt together until well-combined.
  2. Cut the risen dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle, about 1/8” thick. Place one circle onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Spread 1/3 of the filling onto the dough, leaving a slight border. Repeat with the remaining layers and filling. Place the last piece of dough on top to complete the layers. Gently press the edges of dough together.
  3. Use a drinking glass to mark a circle in the center of the dough. Cut the surrounding dough into 16 even slices (see photos). Take two slices and twist them outwards then press the ends together to seal. Repeat until a star shape has formed.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. Brush the star bread with the egg wash mixture and sprinkle heavily with raw sugar. Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes longer.
  6. Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and serve the pecan caramel sauce (recipe below) on the side.

Pecan Caramel Sauce

  1. Combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, cinnamon stick, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter melt and mix well. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the pecans and salt. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  3. Serve warm. If the caramel cools, it will harden. You can always put it back over low heat with a splash of cream to loosen up.