When I saw this saffron star bread I knew right away that I wanted to do something similar to share with you this Christmas. In this recipe, only the dough is similar. I kept the saffron, because it gives the most beautiful golden color to the dough, but I changed the filling and used the spices of the season: ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. The aroma of this sweet bread baking in the oven is unbelievable, trust me. If you like this combination of spices, which reminds me of Christmas, warm blankets and burning fireplaces, you should also try a pumpkin spice latte. Pure comfort in a cup.
If you do not have saffron threads you can use turmeric. I tried making the dough both ways and it turned out identical. If you feel intimidated by the technique to assemble the star, check the video in Eva’s post. It is, in fact, very simple.
Saffron and spices sweet star bread
For the sweet bread:
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads or ground turmeric
- 1 + 2 teaspoon sugar
- 60 ml milk
- 2 teaspoons baker's dried yeast
- 320 g all-purpose flour
- 125 ml lukewarm water
- 75 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of milk (for the egg wash)
For the spices filling:
- 125 g unsalted butter
- 150 g sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a mortar, grind a teaspoon of sugar with the saffron threads until they are broken into small pieces (skip this step if you are using ground turmeric). In a small pot, heat the milk without boiling. Add the sugar and saffron (or turmeric) and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly until it reaches a warm temperature, add the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes, until dissolved and with a spongy texture.
- In the mixer’s bowl, equipped with the dough hook accessory, combine the flour, water, butter, vanilla extract, salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the saffron mixture. Beat at low speed until all ingredients are incorporated, then increase the speed and continue to knead until you get a soft, elastic dough (you can also knead the dough by hand). Transfer the dough to a bowl greased with a little vegetable oil, cover with cling film (see note 1) and let it rise for 60 minutes in a sheltered place (see note 2).
- When the dough has risen, transfer it to a clean, slightly floured surface and divide it into four equal parts. Make four balls, cover and let rise for another 20 minutes.
- While the dough rises make the filling. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process to an homogeneous paste.
- Lay a sheet of parchment paper. Take one of the dough balls and, with the help of the rolling pin, make a circle about 25 cm over the parchment paper. Spread one third of the filling over the dough, leaving a margin of about 3 cm around.
- Lay a second sheet of parchment paper and make a new circle of dough. Take the parchment paper and flip this circle over the first one; remove the parchment paper and gently press the edges to seal. Spread another third of the filling over the dough, again leaving a margin. Repeat this step a second time.
- Roll the last dough ball and place it on top of the other ones in the same way, lightly pressing the outer edge. Place, without pressing, the lid (7-8 cm) of a jar in the center of the circles of dough just for reference, and with a sharp knife, cut 16 identical slices around, keeping the center intact. Work with two slices at a time. Twist the slices away from each other and then pinch the ends of each pair together. Transfer the parchment paper with the sweet saffron bread to a baking tray, cover and let rise for 40 minutes in a warm place.
- Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Brush the sweet bread with the egg whipped with milk and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and cooked.
- I prefer to use cling film because it creates a more airtight environment, but you can also use a clean kitchen cloth.
- In winter it can happen that the house is colder and it makes difficult to leaven the dough. In this case, place the bowl near a heat source (a heater, the fireplace or, as I usually do, inside the oven with the heating function turned on at 35 °C).
- See how easy it is to make your own homemade vanilla extract.
- Adapted from a recipe by Adventures in Cooking.
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