My tahini chocolate star bread has a rich yeasted dough layered with a delicious, nutty chocolate filling and toasted sesame.
Every winter, I find myself slowing down and immersed in baking more so than the rest of the year. I love the solitude and therapeutic process of bread making. My bread journey started a couple years ago when I took a bread class with my friend at Sur La Table to celebrate our birthdays. Star bread was the first yeasted bread I learned from the class so it holds a special place in my culinary journey. I made the cardamom raspberry star bread for the holidays but wanted to make a decadent version with chocolate and a bit of Middle Eastern influence. I’m excited to share my tahini chocolate star bread made from a rich yeasted dough layered with a delicious, nutty chocolate filling and toasted sesame.
Making the tahini chocolate star bread takes about 2 days but the result is worth every second! It involves making the dough, proving it twice, rolling, filling, shaping, and baking. Although there are a lot of steps, each is simple and success guaranteed if you read the instructions thoroughly before making it.
A Note on Proving Dough
The dough requires two proving steps. After the dough is made, leave it in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise for 2 hours. Once it doubles in size, punch down the dough to release any air bubbles and let it prove overnight, about 8 hours, in the fridge to develop the flavor to develop. If you’re making this during cold weather, prove it in your oven at 90 degrees F and the dough will rise.
A Note on Yeast
For the star bread, we start with a yeasted dough that’s enriched with whole milk, eggs, and butter. Similar breads that utilize rich dough are brioche, babka, cinnamon rolls, and monkey bread. The most important thing is making sure the temperature of the milk doesn’t go above 110 degrees F or the yeast will die. Instant dry yeast or active dry yeast works for this recipe but the rise time will take a little longer if you use the latter. Always check the expiration date on your yeast package otherwise the yeast might be old and the dough won’t rise properly.
How to Make the Star Bread
Divide the dough into 5 pieces. Roll each piece of the dough into a ball and cover them with a clean, damp tea towel while you work on one. Take one ball of dough and flatten it with your hands first then shape it into a rough circle. Next, use the rolling pin to roll the dough into a 10-inch disk. I like to roll out all the dough and stack them in between parchment papers before filling it.
Use an offset spatula to spread ¼ cup of tahini chocolate on top of the dough disk. I love the taste of tahini chocolate but feel free to substitute with your favorite jam, chocolate, or hazelnut spread. Place another dough disk on top of the tahini chocolate and repeat the process three more times.
Top the last layer of tahini chocolate with the last piece of dough. I like to trim the excess dough and make the star shape even. Place a 10-inch plate on top of the dough disc and trim any excess dough with a sharp knife or pastry wheel.
Instead of throwing away the scrap dough, I like to roll them up, freeze them, and bake whenever I want a single serving of tahini chocolate roll.
How to Shape the Star Bread
Use small glass or bowl with a 1.5-inch diameter and place it in the center of the dough. Press it gently to make a small indent. Use a sharp knife or a pastry wheel, make 4 cuts at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock.
Slice each of these quarters into two pieces, then cut each of those into two pieces again. You should have 16 pieces connected to the middle of the circle.
To shape the dough, take any two strands next to each other and twist them away from each other. Pinch the ends of the strands together to form a point. Repeat with remaining strands until you have a shape of a star.
After shaping the star bread, I put it back in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up. Before baking, I brush the star bread with an egg wash and sprinkle white sesame over the bread to add texture and visual interest.
Bake the tahini chocolate star bread for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees F or until it turns golden brown. Let it cool for 15 minutes before serving.
My tahini chocolate star bread is a showstopper that tastes just as delicious. Tear off a piece and bite into its tender dough layered with a rich chocolate filling and subtle nuttiness from the tahini. This warm, sweet bread is the best smell to wake up to in the morning.
For more bread baking inspiration, you might like these recipes: prune chocolate morning buns, cardamom raspberry star bread, chocolate halva tahini wreath bread, salted tahini caramel monkey bread, earl grey chocolate babka.
Tahini Chocolate Star Bread
- 1 package instant yeast
- 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk, warm
- 4 cups cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, room temp
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Tahini Chocolate Filling
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Pour milk in a small bowl and warm it in the microwave until lukewarm. Make sure the max temperature is 105-110 degrees. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and give it a quick stir before adding the yeast. Let mixture sit for 8 to 10 minutes, until foamy.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour, remaining sugar, salt, and stir until combined.
- Add in the yeast mixture and eggs until the dough comes together in a soft mass, about 5 minutes.
- Add the butter and beat until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Continue beating until the dough is smooth and stretchy, another 5 minutes.
- Butter a clean bowl, form the dough into a ball and roll it around in the bowl so all sides are buttered. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until it puffs and rises, about 2 hours.
- After 2 hours gently press the dough down with your hands, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight for the second prove.
Tahini Chocolate Filling
- Place a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water to make a double boiler making sure the water does not touch the bottom. Add chocolate. sugar, and and heavy cream and stir until melted. Whisk the mixture until it becomes smooth.
- Remove the chocolate mixture from heat and whisk in tahini until blended.
- Let the tahini chocolate spread cool completely before using.
How to shape the star bread
- Divide the dough into five equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover the balls, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll one piece of dough into a 10" circle and place them in between sheets of parchment paper.
- Lay one circle of dough on a large parchment paper.
- Spread 1/4 cup of tahini chocolate spread over the dough. Top with a second circle of dough. Spread another layer of jam and repeat with a third piece, fourth piece, and finish with the final circle of dough.
- Place a 10-inch plate over the dough and use a sharp knife to cut off excess dough and make the circle even.
- Place a 1.5-inch cup or bowl in the center of the dough circle as a guide. With a sharp knife or pastry wheel, make 4 even cuts, from the glass to the edge. Cut each of the 4 segments in half to make 8, then again to make 16 strands.
- Remove the cup. Using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips and twist them away from each other twice so that the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.
- Lift the parchment paper with the star bread and place it on a baking sheet. Freeze the star bread for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Brush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the bread.
- Bake it for 30-35 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
- Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for 15 minutes before serving.