This post is sponsored by Mezzetta. Thank you for supporting the brand partnerships that make Fare Isle possible!
Well, we made it to December, so we might as well eat all the holiday carbs, you feel me? I remember my mom making savory stuffed bread around Christmastime. The house would fill with the most delicious smells of melty cheese, veggies, and even meats baking inside of a braided loaf. We’d wait impatiently, asking “is it done yet?”, to be handed a warm slice and undoubtedly coming back to ask for another.
Filled with Flavor
The lovely folks at Mezzetta asked me to create a holiday recipe with their products and my mind went straight to a festive stuffed star bread. The filling consists of Mezzetta Marinated Artichoke Hearts and Castelvetrano Olives along with baby spinach, and a mix of creamy dairy and cheeses. If you have not tried Castelvetrano Olives yet you really need to remedy that. These are my absolute favorite olives to use in recipes and for snacking. They are rich and buttery and not overly salty like many olives tend to be.
Sourdough or Don’t
The recipe below is made with sourdough but if you don’t bake with sourdough starter then just use your favorite pizza dough recipe or use store-bought pizza dough for an easy time-saver. You’ll need about 2lbs of dough for this recipe.
Making the Star Shape
To create the star shape you divide the dough into fours and roll or hand-stretch each piece out into a flat circle about 10″ wide. Then layer the dough and filling, stacking layers as you go, ending with a layer of dough. It’s kind of like a tower of pizza at this stage. Place a small round dish or cup on the center of the top layer to use as a template and cut through the layers to make 16 even strips of dough. Once you remove the dish it will look like a sun or flower at this stage. To make the star points pick up a pair of cut strips, one in each hand, and twist them away from each other 2-3 times then pinch the ends tightly together to seal them. This part does get a little messy and some of the fillings will ooze out as you twist the dough. But this is rustic bread so don’t stress about it!
An egg wash gives the bread a lovely golden hue when baked. I like to top it with sesame seeds, flaky sea salt, and more grated parmesan.
For a vegan-friendly version swap the dairy with thick coconut yogurt and vegan cream cheese or whipped tofu (processed until smooth in a food processor), and vegan cheese alternatives. Leave out the egg and use non-dairy milk to replace the egg-wash.
tips and tricks
- If the dough is too elastic and doesn’t want to roll or stretch out easily, let it rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten then continue on.
- I suggest lining the sheet pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper and layering and cutting the bread right on the sheet pan because it is heavy and not easy to move once it’s been shaped into a star. The double layer of parchment will ensure you don’t cut through to the sheet pan and will make the bread easier to transfer after it’s baked.
- You can pulse the filling in a food processor a few times to break it down so it will be easier to cut through the layers.
- 325 g water
- 100 g active sourdough starter 100% hydration
- 500 g bread flour
- 11 g kosher salt
- 12 g extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon
- 30 g extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons
- 1 sweet onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 226 g baby spinach 8 oz.
- 1 jar Mezzetta Marinated Artichokes 6 oz., drained
- 1/2 cup Mezzetta Pitted Castelvetrano Olives drained
- 60 g Greek yogurt 4 oz., or sour cream *see notes for vegan alternatives
- 50 g cream cheese 2 oz.
- 1 large egg beaten
- 20 g grated Parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons
- 115 g grated mozzarella 1 cup
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 20 g grated Parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons
- Feed sourdough starter in the morning before you make the dough.
- Once the starter is bubbly and active add water to a mixing bowl. Then add the starter. It should float in the water.
- Add olive oil then break up the starter with a fork and mix it into the water and oil.
- Add the flour and salt and mix with a fork or dough whisk until it forms a shaggy mass. Then switch to mixing by hand until a sticky tacky dough is formed, about 3-5 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a dough scraper and use it to bring the dough together into the center of the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a wrap or a damp towel and bulk ferment at room temperature until it doubles in volume, anywhere from 4-18 hours depending on the surrounding environment. Tip: The dough can be refrigerated after bulk ferment or once it's risen by 50% and can finish bulk fermentation overnight in the fridge.
- Once the dough has risen, quarter it and form each piece into a ball. Cover them with a towel and let the dough rest while you prepare the filling.
- Peel and dice the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Drain and finely chop the artichokes. Drain and slice the pitted olives. Crack and beat the egg with a fork in a small dish. Grate the parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil to the pan once hot. Then add the diced onion and stir until it starts to become translucent about 1-2 minutes. Then stir in the minced garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic until they start to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Now add the salt, pepper, and oregano, followed by the spinach. Continue cooking until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.
- Turn off the burner and transfer the veggies to a mixing bowl.
- Mix in the artichokes, olives, Greek yogurt, or sour cream and cream cheese first to cool down the mixture. Then mix in the beaten egg, followed by the grated parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
- Set the filling aside to cool while you roll out the dough.
- Roll or hand-stretch stretch each dough ball on a floured surface into a circle about 10" in diameter. If the dough keeps springing back then let it rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten.
- Place the rolled out dough rounds onto pieces of floured parchment paper as you go to keep them from sticking to the counter or to each other if you stack them up.
- Preheat oven to 425˚F/220˚C and line a half baking sheet with 2 pieces of parchment paper.
- Place 1 round of dough onto the parchment paper on the sheet pan. Then spread 1/3 of the filling over the entire surface of the dough. Repeat layering the dough and filling, ending with a layer of dough.
- Place a ramekin or small bowl on the center of the dough and cut outward from the edge of the ramekin, making 16 even strips of dough. Start with quarter cuts then eighths then sixteenths. Then remove the ramekin.
- Working with pairs of strips, one in each hand, twist them away from each other 2-3 times and pinch the ends together tightly to seal them. As you go around you will see the star pattern emerge.
- Brush any exposed dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle on sesame seeds, flaky sea salt, and more grated parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 425˚F/220˚C for 30-35 minutes until puffy and golden brown or until the internal temperature is 200-205˚F/93-96˚C.
- Cool on the tray for 10 minutes then carefully transfer the bread to a cooling rack. Use two large spatulas to aid in the transfer if needed.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Best eaten the day is it baked.
- Wrap leftover bread and keep at room temp for up to 1 day or refrigerate for up to 3 days and reheat to serve.
- For a vegan-friendly version swap the dairy with thick coconut yogurt and vegan cream cheese or whipped tofu (processed until smooth in a food processor), and vegan cheese alternatives. Leave out the egg and use non-dairy milk to replace the egg-wash.