Cranberry & Marzipan Star Bread

Give your Christmas table a festive touch by making this Cranberry & Marzipan Star Bread – a gorgeous & delicious centrepiece.

I love Christmas time and Christmas baking is so much better than Christmas shopping; it’s definitely feeling festive in the Kitchen Shed. In fact, the Kitchen Shed has had a Christmassy feel for a few weeks now as I’ve made a few different chutneys and I’ve just finished my last batch of Homemade Chilli Sauce. Once I’ve sorted a batch of Chocolate Covered Honeycomb and some Chocolate Peppermint Crisps I can add the final touches to my Christmas hampers and things really will be coming together.

The popularity of last year’s Christmas Tree Bread has haunted me for quite a while as to what I should bake for this Christmas. Luckily, my efforts during the summer when I had a crack at a bread sculpture for a baking challenge, came to my rescue. My Flower Bread (nothing like the famous lion sculpture on GBBO this year) was an enjoyable experience and provided me with a springboard for my Cranberry and Marzipan Star Bread. I’ve simplified the Flower Bread shape, using less layers and pieces, and filled the bread with festive flavours – it really is easy to make and looks gorgeous.

I’ve used a sweetened dough, not enriched like a brioche so the bread doesn’t take any longer to prove than a regular loaf – definitely no overnight proving ! The richness of the bake comes from the filling with the Cointreau soaked dried cranberries and orange buttercream.

After a couple of test bakes, I made a few tweaks to arrive at the final recipe. In my first attempt I rolled out a disc of marzipan to use in one of the layers but this resulted in too much marzipan oozed out during baking. I’ve rectified this by using grated marzipan in both layers and adding a touch of flour.

I reckon Cranberry and Marzipan Star Bread will add a festive feel to any Christmas table and will go down a treat with a glass or two of mulled wine. Having said that, a slice of this bread makes for a a perfect Christmas teatime treat with a cup of tea.

Cranberry & Marzipan Star Bread


  • 450 g bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (I used Doves Farm)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon Christmas Spice or mixed spice
  • 50 g softened butter or sunflower margarine
  • 250 ml buttermilk (or half milk and half natural yoghurt)
  • 2 tablespoons marmalade chopped
  • 150 g grated marzipan
  • 75 g dried cranberries
  • 6 tablespoons Cointreau (or the tipple of your choice) or orange juice
Orange buttercream:
  • 90 g softened butter
  • 70 g caster sugar
  • Grated zest of an orange
  • 35 g plain flour
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons sieved apricot jam
Optional Decoration:
  • Almond flakes, icing sugar and dried orange slices
Preheat oven:
  • 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6
  • 1 large baking tray plus one small greased bowl or glass
Make your dough:
  • Warm the buttermilk (or milk and yoghurt mixture) for 1 minute in a microwave on full power. The liquid temperature needs to be tepid to warm so as to encourage the yeast to start working – too much heat will kill the yeast. Gently warm liquid in a saucepan if you don’t have a microwave.
  • If mixing and kneading your dough by hand:
  • Combine all the dough ingredients in a large bowl, stirring them together until they form a ball.
  • Knead by hand for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • If mixing and kneading your dough using a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook:
  • Add the dough ingredients into your mixer bowl.
  • Mix on slow speed number 1 for approximately 1 to 2 minutes then on speed number 2 for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Your dough should be lovely and smooth and elastic.
  • Place your dough in a large greased mixing bowl and cover.
  • Leave to rest in a warm place for at least one and a half hours or until doubled in size.
While your dough is proving prepare the filling:
  • Add the Cointreau or orange juice to your dried cranberries and pop in the microwave for 30 seconds to plump up.
  • Cream the softened butter and caster sugar together and add the grated orange zest, mix well.
  • Add the flour and mix again.
Assemble your Cranberry & Marzipan Star Bread:
  • Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide into 3 balls, about 280 g each.
  • Roll each ball into circles of 21cm diameter.
  • Transfer one of the circles to the centre of a lined baking tray.
  • Spread half the buttercream mixture onto the dough circle.
  • Sprinkle with half of the hydrated cranberries.
  • Arrange half the grated marzipan over the cranberries and buttercream.
  • Place the second dough circle on top and repeat as before with the remaining buttercream, cranberries and marzipan.
  • Place the remaining dough circle on the top and press gently.
  • Using a sharp knife, dough cutter or pizza cutter, cut your pile of circles into 6 even triangles but do not go all the way
  • to the edge, leaving 2.5 cm (1 inch) uncut. (see photos)
  • Carefully fold each triangle/star outwards to reveal a circle in the middle.
  • Place your greased bowl or glass in the centre of your star (see photo).
  • Cover with a large upturned bowl, greased cling film or use a large greased polythene bag to cover.
  • Leave to rise in a warm place for approximately for at least 45 minutes to one hour until doubled in size.
  • See my Kitchen Shed Bread Making Tips to check when your dough is ready for the oven.
  • Remove the glass or cup from the middle of your bread star.
  • Place in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until well risen and golden brown.
  • Brush your Cranberry & Marzipan Star Bread with the warm sieved apricot jam and place on a cooling rack.
  • Optional: Dust with icing sugar and sprinkle with almond flakes and fill the centre with dried orange slices.

Pin Cranberry & Marzipan Star Bread for later:

Cranberry & Marzipan Star Bread - Give your Christmas table a festive touch by making this gorgeous & delicious centrepiece. Step by step instructions included.
I’m linking Cranberry & Marzipan Star Bread to Cuddle Fairy & One Yummy Mummy’s Holiday Foodie Linky for 2016:

I’m entering Cranberry & Marzipan Star Bread into a few food challenges this month:

And linking  to:

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39 thoughts on “Cranberry & Marzipan Star Bread

  1. This is beautiful and reckon even better than your tree bread. Love the flavours and I’m not sure I can wait until next Christmas to give it a try. Hope you’ve been enjoying a fab holiday and I wish you all the best for 2016.

    • Thanks Choclette for such a lovely comment. Had a lovely time in Guernsey with my family, thanks for your good wishes & all the best to you & yours for 2016 too.

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    • Thanks for your lovely comment Karen & thank you for featuring my Cranberry Star in your round up. Always a pleasure to link up with #TeatimeTreats . All the best to you & your family for 2016 x

    • Thanks Lucy, I love experimenting with bread recipes and after last year’s Christmas Tree bread I wanted to create another centrepiece for the Christmas table.

  3. The star shape is so pretty and festive, and I’m amazed just imagining how it must taste…the filling in this bread sounds absolutely spectacular! It was interesting to read about the development of this bread, going from a disk of marzipan to grated marzipan–clever and innovating thinking 🙂

    • Thanks, the cranberry & marzipan do go well together. The marzipan experiment was one of those light bulb moments, I’d seen grated marzipan in Christmas muffins & luckily it worked out well in the bread star. Thanks for popping by 🙂

    • Thanks Linda, it delivers on flavour too, the cointreau soaked cranberries are delicious with the marzipan. Always a pleasure to join the Fiesta Friday party 🙂

  4. Spectacular! It looks almost too good to eat but I bet it is delicious! Congratulations on earning a feature. This is a masterpiece!

    • Thanks Johanne for your kind comment, it was a lovely surprise to have my Cranberry Star featured Fiesta Friday. It is delicious & it’s deceptively easy to make the star shape.

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  6. Pingback: 17 Festive Recipes to Inspire You!

    • Thanks Kerry, it was delicious, it’s been a popular bake at ours this Christmas. Always a pleasure to link up with #FestiveFoodFriday 🙂

  7. This is stunning and so Christmassy. I bet it’s super delicious. Christmas baking definitely brings out the Christmas spirit around our house, as well. Thank you for sharing this masterpiece with us at Fiesta Friday. Have a great weekend!

  8. I love marzipan, and your start is lovely! So glad you went the distance to perfect it and share the recipe with us. Happy Fiesta Friday and Merry Christmas!

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