The Prettiest Food You Can Bake This Holiday

December  8, 2015

The holidays are all about celebratory moments, so we paired up with Simply Organic to find recipes you'll want to share with friends (and make again and again).

Winter is the best time to bake. When the weather turns punishingly bleak, you don’t want to be outside all day. You tromp around—skiing and building snow angels and getting your cheeks ruddy and red—and then darkness falls and you retreat to the comfort of a cozy, brightly lit kitchen.

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Cold weather is the perfect excuse for staying inside and trying new recipes. As the holidays approach, I start to crave spices and butter and comfort food. I make baked pastas and soups and as many pies as I can until I run out of flour. I find myself thinking about tradition. 


Growing up, a sure sign of Christmas nearing was my mother’s annual batch of cinnamon rolls. She’d spend a weekend in the kitchen baking dozens of yeasted rolls with sweet, sticky cinnamon swirls. We’d pile into the car and drop them off with friends as holiday gifts. Everyone, from our closest friends to the cheerful cashier at the feed store, got cinnamon rolls.


I don’t try and rival my mother’s rolls. They’d never taste the same, no matter how perfectly I executed her recipe. Their magic lay in the ritual: tying a length of waxy, red ribbon around each one, the cinnamon-scented air of our kitchen, my three sisters vying to sneak a scrap of dough.

Instead, I’m starting my own tradition. I’ve chosen something similar—an intricate yeasted dough—so the ritual feels familiar, but still new. But instead of sweet, I’m going savory.

My holiday bread has a filling of rosemary, thyme, garlic, and cheese. I stir the herbs into softened butter to create a spreadable paste. This quick compound butter, combined with the cheese, melts into a gooey, addictive filling as it bakes. The star shape is inspired by a classic Swedish sweet bread, which looks wildly complicated but I promise is actually easier than shaping cinnamon rolls!

In the weeks to come, I’ll set aside time to make batches of this bread. I’ll wrap them up and present them to my favorite people. And maybe I’ll even buy that same waxy, red ribbon to tie them up, just to make New York City feel a little more like home this holiday.


Cheese and Herb Star Bread
Dough adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour

Makes one 10-inch loaf

For the dough:

3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons lukewarm whole milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup potato flour 

For the filling:

1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt

Get the recipe (and print and save it) here.

Photos by Posie Harwood

The holidays are all about celebratory moments, so we paired up with Simply Organic to find recipes you'll want to share with friends (and make again and again). Find more seasonal inspiration for your table here

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Illinibunny
  • Gina Sibold
    Gina Sibold
  • kt
  • Sunshine
  • Debbie
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Illinibunny February 6, 2016
I forgot to add in my post that I had used fresh herbs. You still have to really mince them finely. I knew that dried rosemary would be like eating twigs. I also made this using King Arthur cinnamon roll filling. Sooooo easy!
Gina S. February 6, 2016
Looked beautiful, but the dried herbs didn't break down and it was like trying to eat bread with yard trimmings in it; it was horrible! I'm going to try again with powered herbs.
Illinibunny December 25, 2015
I forgot to buy potato flour, and used the same amount of cornstarch. It was perfect; tender and flaky. Do make sure you bake this on a sheet with raised sides as it does leak butter. This is so tender that a pizza peel or extra large spatula is a help in moving it.
kt December 14, 2015
This was delicious and came out looking just like the picture! Only problem was that pools of butter leaked out while it was baking and dripped all over my oven floor... Will try again with less butter in the filling next time. Nevertheless, it's a great recipe and we gobbled it up and I'm already planning to make it again!
nicole.lee December 14, 2015
I made three of these last night for holiday gifts. By the third, I was pinching together each layer of dough as I put it on to help seal in the filling, and then I gave the ends an extra pinch after it rose the second time before putting the egg wash on. It seemed to work better, and the center was puffier and not as flat as my previous ones (I imagine because it didn't leak as much) https://www.instagram.com/p/_QYGyzDnRa/
Sunshine December 13, 2015
Also, how do you wrap them to give as gifts?
Sunshine December 13, 2015
Would fresh herbs work instead of dried?
Mini December 19, 2015
I'm planning to use fresh herbs from my garden. Has anyone tried?
Debbie December 10, 2015
Can you freeze the bread before it's baked ?
nicole.lee December 10, 2015
Is it possible to substitute potato flour with a more easily available flour? Bread flour or all purpose?
Posie (. December 10, 2015
You can swap out the potato flour, but it won't be as tender. Take a look at the comments on the recipe (https://food52.com/recipes/39536-cheese-and-herb-star-bread) and you'll see some suggestions for other options! Good luck!
Karen S. December 10, 2015
You can substitute potato flakes (instant potatoes) - just use 1/2 cup of them to replace 1/4 cup of potato flour. I do it all the time, works perfectly.
Laura415 December 14, 2015
I wonder if you could try another starch if potato flour isn't available. Tapioca starch maybe or arrowroot. Cornstarch is often used in tender cookies like shortbread. It may work in a similar way in this recipe.
Laura N. December 10, 2015
I made this bread with Nutella for last December Bread Baking Babes blog challenge, it came out so pretty and delicious!
Mrs. M. December 13, 2015
Please, please post that recipe!!!!!
Laura N. December 13, 2015
Laura415 December 14, 2015
That sounds great! I could also see making a compound butter of chopped chocolate and ground nuts (hazelnuts/almonds) for a similar filling.
Jane K. December 9, 2015
hnickerson December 9, 2015
Such a stunner, Posie!
laurenlocally December 8, 2015
Posie, I love this so much. I am going to try it for my family this 26th/Boxing Day.