Star Bread with Rum Glaze

This star bread is a decadent way to celebrate the holidays. Think of it as cinnamon rolls shaped into a star, filled with delicious caramel-y raisins and topped with candied nuts.

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Star bread with candied walnuts on a green platter with holiday beverage napkins and a stack of white plates.

Pull Apart Star Bread

Star bread is really a large cinnamon roll, shaped into a star. It’s the sort of baked good that no-one will believe you made it yourself. It looks complicated and intricate and everyone will swear you bought it at a bakery. But you can do this! Making the star shape is actually pretty straight forward and fun to do (especially when you have the photos below to follow), and once you have the technique down, you can vary the fillings to suit your own tastes making customized star breads of all types.

Ingredients on a cutting board - bread dough, brown sugar, white sugar, raisins, butter and cinnamon with a bottle of rum in the background.

Dough for Star Bread

To start, you need to have the right dough. For this recipe, you can make your own cinnamon roll dough. It’s an enriched dough – enriched with egg and butter. That makes the dough tender and soft and perfect to pull apart with your hands. If you’re not up for making your own dough, you could use 2 pounds of frozen bread dough instead, although it won’t be quite a decadent and delicious. Be sure to defrost frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator and then leave it out on your counter for at least 30 minutes to come to room temperature before you divide it into three portions to roll out. 

A circle of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet on a table with other ingredients in the background.

Fillings for Star Bread

The base for the flavor filling of this star bread is your basic cinnamon roll filling – sugar and cinnamon – with a little rum tossed in for good measure. The rum turns the cinnamon sugar into a wet sand consistency that is easy to spread around on the layers of dough with your fingers, sticking well to the softened butter below. You can choose to add raisins to the filling, or not. You could add some finely chopped nuts to the filling, or not. You could even spread some chocolate hazelnut spread on the dough instead of butter if you want a chocolate-y star bread.

9 steps showing how to cut and fold star bread.

How to Shape Star Bread

The shaping of star bread is where you need to know what you’re doing. Above are photos showing you all the steps. You’ll make a club sandwich of dough-butter-cinnamon sugar (that means three layers of dough and two layers of butter and cinnamon sugar). Then, you need to cut the dough into 16 strands that extend away from the center. This is easy to do if you start by cutting the dough into quarters (3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock). Then, cut each quarter in half, giving you 8 sections. Cut each of those 8 sections in half again and you’ll have 16 strands of dough extending away from the center of the circle.

Then you’ll start working with the strands two at a time. Give each strand of dough a half twist, three times. Twist the strand on the left to the left, and twist the strand on the right to the right. Then, pinch the ends of the two strands together forming a point. Do this for all the pairs of strands around the circle. Getting the ends of the strands to stick together is the only tricky part of the process. Use a little egg wash or water to help the dough stick if you need to and pinch hard! Then, let the bread rest for 45 minutes while you pre-heat the oven.

Baked star bread on a baking sheet.

How to Bake Star Bread

There’s a good amount of butter in this recipe, so make sure you bake the bread on a half sheet pan with sides so the butter doesn’t spill onto the floor of your oven. It only takes just over 20 minutes at 375ºF to bake fully. It will be brown, but it won’t be glossy. Because we’re glazing the bread, there’s no need for a glossy finish. However, if you don’t want to put a glaze on the bread, and would prefer it be shiny when it comes out of the oven, simply brush it with a little egg wash before you bake. 

A pastry brush brushing rum glaze onto a baked bread.

Rum Glaze for Star Bread

The glaze is super simple – powdered sugar, rum and milk. That’s it! Just beat it together and get ready to glaze. Let the bread cool for a few minutes before starting to glaze, but do glaze it while it is warm. You can put as much or as little of the glaze on the bread as you like, but make sure it gets into all the nooks and crannies of the dough. Once it’s glazed, it’s ready to serve and pull apart, unless… you want to take it one step farther and decorate the top of the bread.

Candied nuts in a ceramic dish with some on the countertop.

Candied Nut Topping

Candied walnuts are one topping that goes nicely on this star bread. They add a nice crunch to what is otherwise a very soft treat. They are extremely easy to make and very difficult not to snack on! (you’ve been warned) You could also decorate the star bread with candied fruit or lemon or orange zest. 

Hands breaking a piece of star bread off the whole on a green platter on a wooden table.

Making a Day Ahead

Star bread is a delicious Christmas morning treat, but it would be a challenge to make it from scratch that morning with everything going on. So, you’ll be happy to hear that you can make the star bread a day ahead of time. Bake it completely, but don’t glaze it. Wrap it well in aluminum foil. On the morning you plan to enjoy it, pop it into a 350ºF oven, wrapped in foil for about 20 minutes. Then, unwrap it, glaze it and serve. You’ll be a hit!

Star Bread with Rum Glaze

  • Prep Time: 30 m
  • Cook Time: 23 m
  • Rising Time: 1 h 45 m
  • Total Time: 2 h 38 m
  • Servings:


  • 1 cinnamon roll dough
  • cup sugar
  • cup brown sugar
  • teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • ½ cup golden raisins optional
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
Rum Glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners’ powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons rum or 1½ teaspoons rum extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Candied walnuts optional


  1. Make the cinnamon roll dough according to the recipe. Shape the dough into a ball, place it a large, greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for an hour until it has doubled in size.
  2. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, rum and raisins (if using) and set aside.
  3. When the dough has doubled in size, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Divide the dough into 3 even pieces. On a floured surface, roll out one portion of the dough into a 10½-inch circle. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet. Spread half of the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle half of the sugar mixture on top, using your fingers to spread it out evenly to cover the dough. Roll the second portion of dough into a 10½-inch circle and place it on top of the sugar layer. Spread the rest of the softened butter on the dough and spread the remaining sugar mixture on top. Roll out the last portion dough into a 10½-inch circle and place it on top of the sugar layer.
  5. Place a cup, about 3-inches in diameter, in the center of the circle. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 pieces from the glass to the outer edge of the dough. It’s easiest if you first make four slices at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions around the the glass. Then cut each quarter section in half, and then in half again, so you end up with 16 slices of dough extending out away from the glass in the center.
  6. Take two of the strands of dough that are next to each other and twist them in opposite directions, flipping the strands over 180º three times each. Twist the strand on the left to the left and twist the strand on the right to the right. Then, pinch the ends of the two strands together, creating a pointed shape. This can get a little tricky because sometimes the dough doesn’t want to stick together. You can fold one side of the dough over the other and pinch firmly, or use a little beaten egg wash to help the ends stick.
  7. Move to the next two strands and repeat, twisting each in the opposite direction and then pinching the ends together. Continue all the way around the circle until all of the strands of dough have been twisted and pinched together. Brush the dough with the melted butter, allowing it to drip down into the nooks and crannies of the dough. Let it rise for 45 minutes and pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.
  8. After 45 minutes, re-pinch any ends of the dough that have risen apart and transfer the baking sheet to the 375ºF oven and bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until dough has puffed up and is light brown in color.
  9. Remove the baking sheet from oven and let the bread cool for 10 to 12 minutes while you make the glaze. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, rum and milk together until smooth. Brush a layer of the glaze around the star bread while it is still warm and then go around and brush again with the glaze. Immediately sprinkle the chopped candied nuts on the glaze before it sets. Serve warm.
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Comments (4)Post a Reply

  1. Enjoy getting your emails and your air fryer chicken shawarma wrap is one of our family favorites. Recommendation for making this without the rum?

    1. Hi Daniel. The Chicken Shawarma is one of my favorite too! You can use rum extract instead of rum. The amounts are written in the recipe or you can just omit it all together. Just add extra milk or cream for the glaze instead of rum.

  2. 4 stars
    Fairly easy and straight forward. Mentioning the size of baking sheet would be helpful. My 13 inch pizza pan was just a little too small. Will definitely make this next Christmas.

    1. The dough is rolled out into a 10 ½-inch circle so any sheet pan or round pan that is at least 11 inches wide should work. Glad you found a new holiday recipe!

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