The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Italian Star Bread

gckingbread's picture

Italian Star Bread

Does anyone have a recipe for italian star bread?  This is a braided bread with a smooth crust and a chewy but fluffy crumb.  It is popular in Springfield Massachusetts but I can't seem to find a recipe for it.  It may be of Scicilian origin.


allenlouis's picture

Star bread, I grew up in West Springfield and have been looking for the recipe myself, no luck.

johnnybiscotti's picture

I also grew up in West Springfield, and worked in my parent's Italian grocery store which you may know of. We sold Balboni's (Agawam MA) star bread in our store for many years. Our store is gone, but Balboni's is still in business. No other bread like it anywhere, and there never will be. There are some bakeries in Springfield that make star bread, but just not the same, in my opinion,  to Balboni's.

allenlouis's picture

Thanks for the interesting note on the star bread, I shopped at Balboni's. I did grow up in West Side, however I did live in Agawam for a while. I'm surprised we don't know each other, my name is Allen Corte'

italiano's picture

I too, grew up in Springfield, MA area and have yet to find Star Bread anywhere else in the U.S. (nor really tender, good tortellini's either!)  However, during my travels to San Giovanni in Persiceto (about 20 minutes outside of Bologna, Italy) to visit relatives, I was treated to a beautiful version of what we have come to know as "Star Bread."   In the Provincia  Di Boglogna, this bread is referred to as Pane Comune (Common Bread) and comes in several shapes other than the "star."   Many windows throughout Bologna have this beautiful bread exhibited like the art it is.  This is a Northern Italian bread that comes from the same place as tortellini's- Bologna.    Here is a site that features the recipee and I am sure there are several videos available on the web to teach technique as well.  





Common bread/Star Bread


INGREDIENTS 1 kg of flour 0 500 g biga 400 ml of warm water 50 g fresh yeast (2 cubes) 20 grams of salt


 PROCEDURE Form the fountain with the flour, put in the center of the chariot, combine the yeast and mix a little with a little water. Combine the salt (dissolved in a little water) and the rest of the water, mixing with your hands until you have a smooth ball and uniform (5 min.) Put the ball in a bowl, cover with film, then with a cloth and let rise until doubled (15-20 minutes) at room temperature. Take small pieces of dough and give the desired shapes (cross, montasù, Mustafa, barrel, etc.). Put them well apart on sheets of baking paper, cover with a nylon cloth and let them rise at room temperature until doubled (30-40 minutes). Practicing cuts with a razor blade if necessary (for the barrel, homemade, etc..) and bake until golden brown in a preheated oven at 200 ° C-220 ° C, placing the pan in the lower part of the oven. bread out of the oven, place it to cool on a wire rack or in a wicker basket covered with a cloth, and serve. At this point, the You can also freeze bread, slipped into bags for food. necessary, remove the bread from the freezer and put it directly in the oven until it thaws and heats become slightly crispy




1 kg di farina 0
500 gr di biga
400 ml di acqua tiepida
50 gr di lievito di birra fresco (2 cubetti)
20 gr di sale fino


Formare la fontana con la farina setacciata, mettervi al centro la biga, unire il lievito sbriciolato e impastare un po con poca acqua.
Unire il sale (sciolto in poca acqua) e il resto dell'acqua, impastando con le mani fino ad ottenere una palla liscia ed omogenea (5 minuti).
Mettere la palla dentro una ciotola, coprire con pellicola, poi con un canovaccio e far lievitare fino a raddoppio (15-20 minuti) a temperatura ambiente.
Prelevare piccoli pezzi di impasto e dare le forme volute (crocetta, montasù, mustafà, barilotto, ecc).
Metterle ben distanziate su fogli di carta da forno, coprirle con un telo di nylon e farle lievitare a temperatura ambiente fino a raddoppio (30-40 minuti).
Praticare i tagli con una lametta se necessario (per il barilotto, il casereccio, ecc.) e cuocere fino a doratura in forno preriscaldato a 200°C-220°C, mettendo la teglia nella parte più bassa del forno.
Sfornare il pane, porlo a raffreddare su una gratella o in un cesto di vimini coperto con un canovaccio e servire.
A questo punto, il pane si può anche congelare, riponendolo in sacchetti per alimenti.
All'occorrenza, prelevare il pane dal freezer e metterlo direttamente in forno fino a che non si scongela e riscalda diventando leggermente croccante.



dabrownman's picture

Normally an Italian biga is around 60-70% hydration but, even taking this one to be 1oo%, you would have 650 g of water total and 1250 g of flour or a bread at  52% hydration - bagel territory.  I'm guessing there is some more water somewhere - or possibly some white wine?

dablues's picture

I never heard of this bread.  Is there a filling for this bread or is it plain? 

allenlouis's picture

no filling.

mrfrost's picture

Sounds like scali bread, without the sesame seeds?

Essentially a braided Italian loaf.

allenlouis's picture

Never heard of Scali bread, there are no seeds.

lhilde's picture

I was socked to find this site.  I too am from West Springfield.  I live in FL now but return to WS in the summer.  Balboni's bakery is still in Agawam and is being run by the grandchildren.  In fact, they sell star bread and their bread sticks in some other small stores in W. Spfld.  Balboni's also has homemade pasta, crusti and various shapes of the star bread.  Mercolino's in Spfld. also still sells star bread, I beieve they were the original.  We are so disappointed that we cannot find any star bread or tortellinis in FL.  I assume it definitely is just from the Spfld. area.  We were in Italy a few years ago and I even inquired about it there, nobody knew what I was talking about.  It truly is the best!!  If I ever get to Bologna, I'll have to inquire about it there.

jolydo's picture

I'm originally from the Boston area (Stoneham) , where we used to go to Somerville twice a week to buy Star Bread or "Choppy" as my grandfather use to call it.  Hard to get today.  I've moved to Ludlow (Springfield area) and fortunately I can get it here from Balboni's or Randelle's Farm stand.  I bought a loaf at Moma and Rico's in Springfield last week.  They get it from a bakery in CT.  Not the same.  Much too airy, almost like French Bread in a "star" shape.  Texture is all wrong.