These rolls are tender, delicious, and have the perfect lemon undertone. These Lemon Swirl Brioche Rolls are great for a weekend bake or special occasion meals like Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.
What Makes These Rolls So Special?
While this is a whole wheat brioche, you will be surprised at how light and tender it is.
That is one of the best things about a rich dough like brioche. They have a texture, unlike any other dough. If you have not tasted brioche before you are in for a treat. Buttery brioche dough is a favorite of mine!
Brioche gets a cool rise, which means the dough is made the day before and refrigerated for about 24 hours. I like this as the day of serving, you are not dealing with the dough-making process, only assembly, and baking of the loaf.
The lemon sugar creates the best subtle but still there lemon flavor. I love the undertone. It also caramelizes on the sides, which is one of my favorite things!
- Warm Milk- rich doughs generally have plenty of milk, eggs, and butter.
- Whole Wheat Flour- I used white wheat, but you could also spelt, red wheat, rye, einkorn, etc. There are a lot of great options out there.
- All-purpose Flour- I like to use the blend of all-purpose and whole wheat. You can always do 100% whole wheat, but my family prefers the blend. If you are new to whole wheat baking, this will be a great way for you to start out.
- Brown Sugar- Brioche is generally a sweet dough and I used brown sugar for the dough.
- Salt- it only takes a teaspoon salt, but you cannot skip this.
- Instant Yeast- You could also use an active dry if you prefer, but I like instant for this recipe.
- Eggs- this is an egg-rich dough.
- Butter- this needs to be at room temperature. Make sure you start with soft butter and melted butter when you are forming the loaf. You can use unsalted butter or salted. I don't think it makes a lot of difference in this particular recipe.
- Lemons- you will use the lemon zest (lemon peel) for the lemon sugar.
- Granulated Sugar- this is used in the lemon-sugar mixture.
How To Make The Brioche Dough
Start by adding your warm milk (you can heat it in a small saucepan or microwave. It is only heated to about 100 degrees), yeast, salt, eggs, brown sugar, and flours to the bowl of a stand mixer. It is not recommended to mix brioche by hand. Not only do you have to knead for a really long time, but your hands will warm the dough too much. Use the dough hook for this recipe.
Mix for about 1 minute. Then you will start adding the butter in 1 tablespoon increments. Butter is added slowly to the dough in making brioche. In fact, the process of adding the butter should take about 10-15 minutes. So add a tablespoon, let it mix in, then add another. do not rush this process. At the end of the mixing time, you should have a very smooth dough.
Once the butter is all added and mixed in, it is time to chill. Now, transfer dough in a ziplock bag sprayed with pan release, or you can turn dough into a greased bowl and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap. Make sure and give it room to rise. It will double.
Forming The Lemon Rolls
The next day, remove the chilled dough from the fridge.
Wash your lemons, dry, and grate with a Microplane to get the fresh lemon zest. Mix the zest with the granulated sugar.
Flour your work surface and roll the dough to about 12x18 inches. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle generously with the lemon sugar.
Take the right third of the rectangle and fold it over the middle. Then take the left third and fold it over the middle as well.
Cutting across the fold in 1-inch sections, cut all the rolls. Working on the first piece, twist it, and then tuck one end under. The photos will explain this better.
Place on a baking sheet and top with remaining melted butter and any sugar that has fallen out.
Cover and allow the rolls to double in a warm place. At the end of the rising time, preheat your oven. Place in the heated oven and bake until they are golden brown.
What is Brioche?
There are a few things that make brioche different than your regular loaf of bread. For one, it is an egg-rich dough. Meaning there are a lot of eggs.
It is also heavy in butter. The butter is added slowly over about a 15 minute period of time.
It is also best to give this dough a cool rise. While this means it takes longer than the average bread to make, this is also good as you can make it ahead of time. The cool rise makes the dough so much easier to work with and enhances the flavors.
You will know the brioche dough has been mixed enough when you can form a "window" with the dough.
This means stretching a piece of dough gently between your fingers. You should be able to form a thin "window" with the dough.
It will not be perfect with the whole wheat dough, especially if you grind your own wheat as there is bran that will show in your window. But, it will have a good stretch to it.
It might seem like this recipe has a lot of lemon zest, but I will promise it is worth it! You need a lot to balance the bread.
I am not sure of the answer to this as I have not tried it. I mean there are vegan subs for just about everything. If you try it, let me know!
You sure can. It is really good using orange zest, lime zest, or even grapefruit zest!
I have left it in the fridge for up to 3 days. So go ahead and make it ahead of time!
Other Brioche Recipes
- Pumpkin Brioche with Pecan Filling
- Raspberry Swirled Loaf
- Herb Swirled Loaf
- Lemon Brioche Pull-Apart Bread
Lemon Swirl Brioche Rolls
- stand mixer
- Bakign sheet
- Rolling Pin
- ½ cup warm milk
- 3 eggs, room temp
- 2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 ¾-2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Read through all instructions before starting.
- Add all ingredients for the dough into your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Make sure and start with 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour. You can add more later if needed.
- Mix for about a minute. Then start adding the softened ½ cup butter in a tablespoon at a time. This will take a while to mix all the way, so don't rush the process. It should take 10-15 minutes all together
- Once all the butter is added and it is mixed well, it is time to chill.
- I like to store mine in a sprayed ziplock bag. If you do it this way, make sure not to take all the air out of the bag, give it room to rise. If you don't want to use bags, you can grease a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover tightly with saran wrap
- Let it have a cool rise for at leaat 12-24 hours.
- On the day of baking, combine your granulated sugar and lemon zest. Set it aside. Then line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 18x12 inches.
- Brush with the melted 4 tablespoons of butter, then sprinkle with the lemon sugar.
- Fold the right third of the dough over the middle. Then fold the left side over the middle as well. This will give you a trifold dough. Then, cutting across the layers, cut 1-inch strips.
- Twist each strip to form the rolls and tuck under to hold them into place. Repeat for all the rolls. If there is any sugar that fell out when you were rolling, just place it on top of the rolls. Then move them to the baking sheets. Cover and let them rise until they are doubled.
- Near the end of the rising period, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place your rolls in the preheated oven and bake until they are a light golden brown.
- That is it and you are done!! Now, sit back and enjoy. You deserve it!