Orange & Cinnamon Swirl Brioche Recipe – Carla’s Treat

Cinnamon Orange Brioche SliceThe smell of this bread when making, baking and eating is heady. It’s redolent of warm summer evenings in Morocco with spicy orange & sweet cinnamon. You’ll be hard pushed to leave it once it’s out of the oven for the crumb to mature. I think it must be mildly addictive.

I came by the recipe by a lucky accident. I ‘met’ Carla Tomasi on twitter and we started talking food & bread. Lucky for me because Carla is a former chef, restauranter and all round generous good egg. Even luckier for me because Carla is based over 2000km from me in Rome and we would never have had the chance to swap recipes if not for Twitter.

Carla’s brioche recipe is legendary amongst her friends and rightly so. She tells me that it originally came to her from a Swede living in Spain. So it’s truly an international recipe and Carla is keen for it to be more widely baked. So she kindly agreed to me posting it here.

The bread is lovely just sliced and by itself, butter is an additional bonus and it’s wonderful lightly toasted. Most brioche doughs have huge amounts of butter in them, this recipe has only a small amount for less fat worries.

Would you like to smell and taste this beautiful brioche? Read on…

The quantity below makes about 2kg of dough. You can split this into 2 large loaves in loaf tins or 3 slightly smaller ones. When I first made this, I divided the dough by eye and got one normal sized loaf and one whopper as you’ll see below. I suggest you weigh the dough to get it even.

You’ll need two (or more) 1kg loaf tins which you should line with greasproof paper or those posh tin liners.

It’s easiest to make this dough using a mixer, but it is possible to make it by hand.

You’ll need a big bowl to prove the dough in and a plastic bag opened out or some cling film coated in  oil to stop it drying out.

Preheat your oven to 180°C. We recommend you do not use a fan oven for this as the dough may not cook through before it’s brown on the outside due to the sugar content of the dough.


For the dough

Either use:
25g of dried yeast, and
1tsp of sugar, and
60g warm water 

and mix together and leave until yeast froths up (about 15 minutes)

or use 2 sachets easy bake yeast
and add the 60g of warm water to the orange juice below

250g tepid full fat milk

250g fresh orange juice (about the juice from 5 or so oranges or use fresh, smooth carton juice)

100g sugar (you can use granulated, brown caster gives a nice colour)

50g unsalted butter, soft

110g (about 2) eggs, beaten

Grated zest of 1 orange

1.2kg of very strong white bread flour


For the cinnamon sugar filling

120g sugar, granulated or brown caster
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
50g unsalted butter, melted



This is easiest to make in a mixer with a dough hook attachment. If you are making by hand, you’ll get a good work out doing the kneading necessary.

In your mixer bowl, or a big bowl if mixing by hand, combine the milk, orange juice & zest, sugar, butter, and eggs. Add 400g of the flour and mix until thoroughly combined. You can use the paddle attachment to do this in your mixer

Add the yeast and another 400g of flour and mix again until thoroughly combined. You’re probably best to switch to your dough hook here. Add the remaining flour gradually, making sure each addition is thoroughly combined before adding any more. Stop adding flour when the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.Knead the dough until it is silky smooth and springs back well when you press it. I test the dough by taking a small ball and seeing if I can pull it apart so the dough makes a thin, transluscent ‘window’. If it does this, it’s ready. If the dough breaks, then you should knead some more. This will take quite a while even if using a machine. I kneaded for 12 minutes or so at a slow spead and then 5 minutes at a faster speed before the dough was properly ‘developed’. If doing this by hand, you’ll be very fit.

Oil the big bowl, or coat it in flour, and place your dough in it. Cover with the oiled plastic. Leave to rise in a warm place until about doubled in size. Depending on the temperature in the room, this could take 45 minutes or longer.

Divide the dough into two (or more) pieces. Handle it gently.With each piece of dough in turn, flatten it out into a rectangle. The short side should be a little shorter than the length of your loaf tin and the long side about one and a half times this.

Mix together well the sugar and cinnamon.

Brush the dough with some of the melted butter and sprinkle on a layer of the cinnamon sugar.

Starting with the short side, roll the dough up tightly and pop it in your lined loaf tin. Cover with oiled plastic and leave in a warm place to rise to double the size. This will take from about 30 minutes depending on the temperature of the room.

Do the same with each piece of dough.

Once the dough has risen, place it in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes until brown. I’d then take the brioche out of the loaf tin, turn it upside down and allow it to bake for another 5 minutes or so until it is firm all round.

Brioche in Tins

Once the brioche is cooked, take out of the oven and put on a rack to cool. Ideally you should leave the brioche to cool thoroughly so the crumb develops nicely before cutting it.

The brioche freezes very well. I cut the humungous sized loaf above in half and froze it like that. Just ensure the the brioche is well wrapped and bagged before you freeze it.

There you have it. Grazie mille Carla, buon apettito!






5 responses to “Orange & Cinnamon Swirl Brioche Recipe – Carla’s Treat”

  1. Joanna Avatar

    Going to make this afternoon! Squee as our friend Mitch would say! xx

  2. Joan Hayes@chocolate and more Avatar

    Saw you at Basilamomma’s blog hop, this looks wonderful, nice twist on regular cinnamon bread, can’t wait to try it!

  3. teawithhazel Avatar

    will do carl..and thanks for the less kneading tip..jane

  4. Carl Legge Avatar
    Carl Legge

    Hi Jane

    Thanks for saying that. EVen though lower in butter, it's absolutely delicious.

    Halving the recipe now problem, you may need to put a bit less work into the dough as well.

    When you try it, do come back and let me know how you got on.


  5. teawithhazel Avatar

    it's a great looking recipe and especially good with a lower fat content than your average brioche..i would halve the recipe because i'm not a freezer person..but i think that should work ok..