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Italian star bread

by paddock2pixel

Disclaimer: In December 2019, I was commissioned to develop a variety of recipes for Dairy Australia. This is one of them, highlighting the use of mozzarella cheese. Styling and photography by me. Both the recipe and the photo is now property of Dairy Australia, however I was given permission to publish them on my website. © Dairy Australia. All rights reserved.

I love making pizza! Bon Appetit magazine in the US did a series on their YouTube channel about making the perfect pizza (seriously, you gotta watch it, it’s amazing!) and ever since I’ve been using their recipe for the dough when making pizza. If you’re into sourdough bread making, you will love this!

Now, not everyone has a sourdough starter, so for my version of an Italian star bread, I kept it simple, just using a yeasted dough. These star breads have been popping up on my Instagram feed every once in a while, and I thought they looked a bit intimidating and hard to make. But believe me, they’re easy as! I’ve mostly been seeing these filled with something sweet like Nutella or jam, but for Dairy Australia I wanted to create a version with lots of cheese. Couldn’t get any more classic, a tomato, mozzarella and pesto combination, but what’s been proven good shouldn’t be tempered with, right?

This is not a pizza, it’s more of a pull apart bread, but it certainly has all the flavour combinations of a pizza. Serve it warm, and it’ll be the star of the party. Yup, I went there. You’re welcome.

Italian star bread

A pull-apart bread? A pizza? We don’t care what you call it, but it certainly is the star of the party. Cheesy? Yes it is! It may look impressive, and you might think it’s tricky to make, but all you need is a bit of twisting action for the magic to happen.
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Resting Time1 hour
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bread, italian, mozzarella, parmesan, pesto
Servings: 8 serves



  • 240 ml full cream milk room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons castor sugar
  • 500 g flour
  • 60 g unsalted butter softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

Pesto Filling

  • 40 g parmesan grated
  • 1 small bunch basil
  • 40 g salted and roasted macadamia or cashew nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 60-70 ml extra virgin olive oil

Mozzarella filling

  • 125 g tomato paste
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herbs dried
  • 10 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 160 g mozzarella cheese finely grated


  • 1 egg for egg wash


  • In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm milk until slightly frothy. Sift in flour, then add salt, butter and the egg. Bring together with your hands, then knead for 5 minutes into a smooth dough. The dough is ready when it slowly springs back when poked. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let the dough rest in a warm place until it has doubled in size, approximately 60 minutes.
  • Make the pesto by blending all ingredients in a food processor until a coarse paste is formed. Add extra oil if the mixture is too stiff. The consistency should be spreadable, but not runny.
  • In a separate bowl, mix tomato paste with herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan forced 180°C). Knock down the dough, then divide it into four equal pieces and shape them into smooth balls. Roll each piece out into a 30cm circle. Place one circle onto a lined baking paper. Spread with half the tomato paste mix, then evenly cover with half the mozzarella. Cover with another dough circle then spread evenly with the pesto. Repeat with another layer of dough and the tomato paste and mozzarella mix, then finish with the last layer of dough. Press down slightly to stick the layers together.
  • To shape the star, place a small glass into the centre of the bread, then using a sharp knife, cut 16 evenly spaced cuts from the glass to the edge. Grab two strips and twist them away from each other twice. Press the ends firmly together to seal and fold the seam down. Repeat with the rest of the strips until you have a star with 8 points. Remove the glass.
  • Brush the bread with egg wash and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.
  • Tip: While working on each layer, cover the remaining dough with a clean towel to avoid it from drying out.

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