Wondering How to make Star Bread for the Holidays? Heaven’s Kitchen Checks in with Baking Tips for Christmas & Epiphany.

Join us every week as the CultureCast takes you inside our kitchen for: Heaven's Kitchen to show you how to cook for an army and become a culinary artist! Or come along with us and go: On the Road with the Sisters to become traveling pilgrims as you discover all the things that can be seen and those that are unseen! Or sit down with Mother Assumpta Long as she unlocks a few stories from some unsuspecting guests! Join us each week for unlikely adventures and together let's learn new things, see new places and meet new faces on The CultureCast.

For the Audio Presentation of this article, click here:

Are you looking to include more tradition in your Christmas baking? Do you want to add beauty and taste to your Christmas? Look no further than this delightful and tasty Star Bread recipe that the sisters share with you today. The eight-pointed Star Bread is filled with flavor and packed with tradition and symbolism.

Today we’re going to tell you how to make Christmas Star Bread. You can find a visual component of the show by clicking in the Video player below or Here. First, we’re going to tell you about the Star Bread and our love for baking Christmas traditions. Everybody has their family’s special things that they do around Christmas time. This is one thing that we like to do as sisters around Christmas time. Sister Rene, do you have any memories from your family for when you all had Christmas? 

For the Visual Presentation of this Article Click Here:

Watch the entire baking process for Christmas Star Bread here!

Sister Rene Noel:

Every morning, my dad would make cinnamon rolls, but my dad doesn’t really cook. He would crack them out of the can, so that’s not actually baking cinnamon rolls. My mom is a wonderful baker, so we would actually have nice pies and things for Christmas, but in the morning, we still loved dad’s cinnamon rolls out of a can.

Sister Mary Vianney:

My mom baked a lot, and around Christmas time we would make these little candy cane cookies that had peppermint and vanilla. They were wrapped around each. We made almond spritz, the ones that you press out of the different shapes, and then my mom made Almond Roca every year for friends and family. I remember around Christmas time, we were in the kitchen a lot, and it’s the same in the convent. We do a lot of baking around Christmas time.

Sister Rene Noel:

We like to bake things that we have a spiritual significance too, so could you tell me about our Star Bread and the importance of that? 

Sister Mary Vianney:

The Christmas Star Bread is in the shape of a star. The star is a really important symbol for Christmas. It’s in Scripture that the Magi were led to Christ by a star. The star is also in the Old Testament as the star rising in the tribe of Judah, and of course, we know Jesus is the star and the star represents Him. The star is also that Guiding Light, so it can represent Faith. It’s a very Christmassy symbol, and we see that a lot around this time. The Magi are connected not just with Christmas but also another special feast day. 

Sister Rene Noel:

That’s Epiphany, which is one of the celebrations of the Magi coming to Christ. The root of Epiphany means revelation, so it is revealing Christ’s divinity. Not only does Epiphany celebrate the Magi finding Christ in the manger and realizing that He’s the king and giving Him gifts, but it’s also the baptism in the Jordan when the heavens opened and the Spirit descended on Christ in the form of a dove where we realize that He’s the Son of the Father, and also the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus provides miraculous wine, and we realize that He’s the long expected Messiah and bridegroom of Israel. All of those feasts are rolled into one on Epiphany, even though in the western tradition in the church, we tend to focus a lot more on the Magi. 

Sister Mary Vianney:

There’s another aspect of the stars and celebrating Christmas and Epiphany as Dominicans. We also associate the star with Saint Dominic because it’s said that at his baptism there was shown on his forehead an eight-pointed star, so we like to connect that to our Star Bread. If you came to our Chapel at the motherhouse, you would see stars all over the place. Even our community medal has an eight-pointed star to represent Saint Dominic. The eight-pointed star is a symbol of Christmas, but also a very special symbol for us as Dominicans, so you can have another excuse to eat Star Bread at the other times during the year, not just at Christmas. 

The star shape is important, but also it being bread is significant. There are a lot of places in Scripture where we see bread coming up. You can think of the multiplication of the loaves or David when he took the bread of offering that’s always sitting in the temple or the first food mentioned in Genesis after the fall is you will eat bread by the sweat of your brow. There’s all this bread symbolism, and people have been eating bread for millennia. 

Sister Rene Noel:

It’s a staple of life and living in community and in family. I think that’s an important symbol in Scripture of bread as the symbol of the family and the community unit. Bread is also something special because it doesn’t occur naturally. Humans must take the wheat, grind it and make flour, and mix it with other things. Our labor goes into it. Bread is also a symbol of us taking what God has given us and then giving it back to Him in a new way. Bread, of course, has Eucharistic significance as well.

Some things you will need. For more detail Go Here.

Sister Mary Vianney:

Let’s talk about how to make this delicious Star Bread. We’ll go through the ingredients first and then take you step-by-step through how to make it. You’re going to start with four and a half teaspoons of active dry yeast and a cup of warm water and 5 tablespoons of sugar. 

Sister Rene Noel:

You’ll also need a half a cup of softened butter, two eggs, and a fourth of a teaspoon of salt.

Sister Mary Vianney:

Then you’ll need four and a quarter to about four and a half cups of flour and about half of a cup of jam. Any flavor is fine. Strawberry Blackberry, whichever is your favorite. 

The Egg Brush step is very important. For more in-depth on how to prepare and apply Go Here.

Sister Rene Noel:

Lastly some materials you’ll need are a canning jar lid or any other three to four-inch circle and also parchment paper. At the very end of the recipe, there’s a special brush that helps your bread have that golden-brown touch, and for that you’ll need one egg and a quarter cup of melted butter. Now if we’re going too fast for you, you can always go to our YouTube page to watch us prepare it. We provide detailed recipe cards for you there as well.

Yeast bread can always be a little tricky. I didn’t make bread much before I entered. Some of the sisters taught me how to make yeast bread, and they taught me a lot of great tips. One of them is how to get the water the perfect temperature. 

Sister Mary Vianney:

If it’s too hot, you kill the yeast. If it’s too cold, the yeast doesn’t activate, so that is the most important step in most yeast breads to get the living yeast.

Sister Rene Noel:

You have to make your yeast happy. 

Sister Mary Vianney:

That’s the convent catchphrase. When you have a bubbly yeast, it’s a happy yeast. One thing that makes your yeast happy is putting the sugar in with your warm water before you put the yeast in. The first step of making the Star Bread is mixing the warm water, the sugar, and the yeast in a bowl by itself. Test the waters with your finger first. It should feel warm to the touch but shouldn’t be too hot for your finger to stay in. 

Sister Rene Noel:

After you mix the yeast and the sugar in the warm water, set that aside and let the yeast activate. While that’s happening in a different bowl, mix the salt, eggs, and the butter and then add the water-yeast mixture to the butter mixture and stir them together. If the butter was a little cold, it might still be in chunks, but that’s fine at this point. 

Sister Mary Vianney:

That’ll work itself out when you’re kneading it. At this point, it doesn’t look much like dough because you haven’t added flour, and the gluten in flour is what makes it stick together. Start adding flour about one cup at a time. You don’t want to add too much too fast because it’s easy to add too much flour at the beginning, and if you do that, then your dough is going to be dense and tough, and it won’t be quite as delicious as it could be. Start adding your flour one cup at a time and stir it until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl, even if it doesn’t look quite smooth yet. 

Sister Rene Noel:

After that, you’ll turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead more flour in as needed. Your hands can be floured. The surface should be lightly floured. You’ll keep kneading it until the dough isn’t sticky, but it’s springy and stretchy. Again, for a visual go to our YouTube page by clicking above or right here.

Sister Mary Vianney:

Make sure it doesn’t stick to your fingers and feels smooth and soft. If you press your finger into it, it should spring back at this point. It hasn’t risen yet, so it is going to be dense still and that’s okay. Lightly grease a large pot or bowl and put your dough into that and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. That’s important because if you cover it too tightly with plastic wrap, then as the yeast rises and releases gases, those gases will get trapped in your bowl and make your dough taste yeasty and bitter. 

Sister Rene Noel:

We accidentally left a bowl like that too tightly covered when we were making this, and it did taste a bit bitter. It wasn’t a sweet bread anymore.

Sister Mary Vianney:

Make sure that your plastic wrap is not too tight over your dough. Leave it to rise for about an hour until it doubles in size. Take the plastic wrap off and punch it down to release all the gases. Recover it with the plastic wrap for about a half an hour. Let it rest a little a bit more. 

Sister Rene Noel:

At this point you’ll need your oven preheated to about 350. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and divide it into 4 equal balls. This recipe makes 2 separate Star Breads. Take one of those four balls of dough and roll it out into about a 10-inch circle. 

Sister Mary Vianney:

Each of your Star Breads is going to be about as big as a dinner plate to give you a good mental image. At this point, you’ll want to transfer that circle onto the parchment paper on your baking tray because it’s not transferable after you’ve done everything you need to do with the jam and the cutting and the twisting and all of that. At this point, spread the jam on top of the circle. You don’t have to use jam. You can use other fillings like chocolate if you’re a chocolate person. We used strawberry jam. The red gives it a nice Christmas look. You could do both. You could do a strawberry chocolate. Take one of your other balls of dough and roll it out and put it on top, so you have a sandwich with dough on the bottom, then your filling, and then the other dough on top. Now here’s the complicated part. Take your canning jar lid and put it right in the middle of your dough sandwich. Starting from the edge of the lid and cutting outwards, you’re going to cut it into fourths and then take one of each of those fourth and cut it into eighths and then cut that in half again so that you have a total of 16 even-sized wedges, but the wedges should not meet in the middle. When you take off your canning jar lid, you should see an untouched circle in the middle. This is what’s going to keep your star from completely falling apart. It keeps it together. It looks like a pinwheel with all the different edges coming off with the center not divided. Take two of those wedges that are right next to each other and twist them away from each other about two rotations and then pinch the very outer edge together and that’ll make one point of your star. 16 wedges, two for each point, will leave you with eight points for your star. After you’re done with that, do the exact same thing with the other two balls of dough. You’ll have your two stars on the same baking tray. Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. 

Chefs, Sr. Mary Vianney and Sr. Rene Noel show us how to bake Christmas Star Bread and provide insights on its religious significance at Christmas time. For more in-depth on the How To – Click Here.

Sister Rene Noel:

I think there’s something about it being an eight-pointed star. We talked about Saint Dominic with the eight-pointed star, but it also has another neat Christmas connection. 

Sister Mary Vianney: 

I was always so disappointed before I entered the convent of how everyone would celebrate Christmas for the day, and then you’d go out after Christmas and all the decorations would be taken down. Sometimes you see people taking the lights off their house like Christmas was over. It is almost like everyone celebrated up until Christmas, and then Christmas was the final day, and you’re done. In the Church, we have something called an octave where we get to celebrate some great mystery for a full eight days. There’s an octave for Christmas, and there’s also an octave for Easter, and the eight-pointed star can help remind us of that octave that we’re supposed to be celebrating for eight full days. It’s that overflowing joy of what God has done for us in becoming human. Make sure that when your kids are asking for special treats in the week after Christmas, you make some exceptions because it’s still Christmas. It’s the Christmas octave. 

Sister Rene Noel:

Once you have baked your stars for about 20 minutes, you’ll prepare your egg and butter brush for the star. You’ll just lightly beat an egg and your melted butter, but you need to make sure that your melted butter is not too hot because if your butter is too hot once you add the egg, it’ll cook the egg and you’ll have little like chunks of egg in your egg wash and that’s not appetizing. 

Sister Mary Vianney:

If it doesn’t look good. It doesn’t taste that great either. Make sure that your butter is not too hot. After 20 minutes, take your stars out of the oven, brush them with the butter and egg wash, and put them back in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes until it’s slightly brown all over on top. Take them out and let them cool for a few minutes. While they’re cooling, you can make a little icing drizzle to go on top. It looks fancy. You don’t need it, but it’s fun. Take a half a cup of powdered sugar and add as much warm water as you need to drizzle it but not too runny or it’ll just slide right off your Star Bread. 

The Star of any Christmas gathering, Christmas Star Bread! For more in-depth on How to Prepare Click Here.

Sister Rene Noel:

That doesn’t take very much hot water at all. Once that’s cool, for a final touch you can sprinkle it with a few pinches of powdered sugar. It gives a nice presentation. That is your star. 

Sister Mary Vianney:

Eating the Star Bread is the best part. It’s best when it’s warm, so you don’t have to let it cool completely before you drizzle it and powder sugar it because you’re going to want to eat it. There’s nothing like the smell of baking bread. I remember when we would bake something growing up and the smell would fill the whole house. It still happens in the convent. We’ll be in the Chapel, and someone will be baking bread for dinner or something, and you’re smelling it. When you eat your Star Bread, each of the points makes a nice little portion. You can pull those points away from the center. You have eight pieces right there. So, thank you for joining us for our Star Bread. If you are reading or watching this at Christmas time, Merry Christmas! If you liked this, make sure to like and subscribe to our YouTube page. Don’t forget to look up the visual of this where we take you into our motherhouse kitchen and show you step-by-step how to make the Star Bread. Thanks for joining us on Heaven’s Kitchen. 


If you are enjoying receiving content and resources from GoLEDigital, please click here. Your generous gift provides expanded opportunities for programming that can be shared more widely and frequently.


Want to Republish this Article? Request Permission Here

Request to Republish:

Share This Post On

By subscribing, you agree to LEDigital's terms of use and privacy policy.