With orange zest and orange icing, this braided orange bread recipe is just a little sweet, perfectly moist, and full of flavor! Shape the twist into a wreath or keep it as a simple loaf, this bread is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon kaffee.
Which yeast is best for the yeasted dough?
This recipe works with either instant yeast or active dry yeast. Active dry will work best if you bloom it first in the warm milk whereas instant yeast can be whisked directly into the dry ingredients. Read this article for more tips on baking with yeast!
Can this be made in advance?
Yes! You can either bake the whole recipe the day before serving it or shape the bread and then place it in the fridge overnight and bake it in the morning. It tastes best freshly baked and warm but it will also taste amazing after it has cooled.
Can I make this braided orange bread recipe sweeter?
Yes, this bread isn’t very sweet to begin with but the icing definitely makes it sweeter. However, if you prefer your recipes very sweet, I would add an extra 30 grams of sugar to the dough and 50 grams of sugar to the cream cheese filling.
Tips for making Braided Orange Bread
- This dough is kneaded in stages which helps the gluten develop and in turn helps the bread keep its shape.
- Once the butter has been kneaded in, its ok if the dough still slightly sticks to the bowl as long as you are able to stretch the dough without it immediately breaking. This could take up to 20-25 minutes.
- To make the bread a little sweeter add 50 grams of sugar to the filling and an extra 30 grams to the dough.
- When shaping the braid, make sure to pinch the ends closed so they don’t come apart and fully tuck the ends under each other when shaping the crown. If the ends are not fully tucked in, they can have a tendency to pop out during baking which will still taste great it just may not look as pretty.
- Be sure to use an oven safe glass such as a ball mason jar in the center of the bread to keep it from breaking.
Ingredients for Braided Orange Bread
- All Purpose Flour: Any all purpose flour should work for this! I have not yet tried any other flours with this recipe.
- Sugar: This recipe uses granulated sugar in the dough as well as powdered sugar in the glaze.
- Milk: The bread uses milk as the liquid in the dough; however, it will also work with non-dairy milks such as almond or light coconut milk.
- Butter: The butter adds moisture to the crown as well as makes it softer! It’s important that the butter is at room temperature, otherwise it will cool down the dough and be difficult to incorporate.
- Egg: I use a standard large egg from the grocery store. Be sure the egg is at room temperature before incorporating it. If the egg is too cold it will prevent the dough from rising.
- Yeast: In this recipe, active dry yeast is used. However, if you are using instant, simply whisk it in with the flour and sugar and continue with the recipe.
- Cream Cheese: For this recipe you will need 4 oz of cream cheese. The cream cheese adds a lot of moisture and richness to the bread! I haven’t tested the recipe with a vegan cream cheese yet.
- Orange Zest & Juice: Oranges tend to range in size quite a bit so this recipe calls for the zest of three oranges but they were small oranges; if you have large oranges 2 should be enough – although a little extra orange zest never hurt anyone.
How to make this braided bread recipe?
Make the dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and sugar and whisk to combine.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the yeast and then the warm milk. Stir the yeast and milk together with a spoon, incorporating a few tablespoons of the dry ingredients. Cover the bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Once the mixture in the well is bubbly and the 10 minutes have passed, stir together with a spatula to create a shaggy dough. Then add in the egg, vanilla, and orange zest and knead on medium low for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Then add in the softened butter (I find cubing it helps to speed up the kneading process).
- Knead the mixture on low speed for 20 minutes until the dough is smooth and the sides of the bowl are clean.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl that is at least twice the size of the dough. Then cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and place somewhere warm to rise for 45 min until the dough has doubled in size.
Make the orange cream cheese filling
- In a microwave safe bowl, add in the cream cheese and heat for about 10 seconds in the microwave.
- Stir the cream cheese so that it is a spreadable consistency, and then stir in the orange zest.
Assembling and shaping the Orange Bread
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F – if you have convection, heat the oven to 325 F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining one cookie sheet or half size baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, take it out of the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to a rectangle that is about 30 cm x 45 cm. I find it helpful to frequently reshape the dough into a rectangle, otherwise you will have an oval shape at the end which will make shaping the bread, challenging.
- Spread the orange cream cheese filling onto the dough leaving about a 1/2″ border on two of the short sides and one long side of the rectangle. On the 2nd long side, the leave a 1″ border.
- Starting from the long side with a 1/2″ border, roll the up the dough. Once you reach the other long side, pinch the seam shut with your fingers and roll the log over so that it is sitting on top of the seam.
- Next pinch the two ends of the log shut so none of the filling will squeeze out. Using a thin long knife, cut down the center of the log so that you know have two long halves with the cream cheese exposed.
- Cross the two halves over each other in the center so that you have an X in front of you. The side with the cream cheese exposed should always be face up.
- Twist the two strands together until they are fully twisted together. Pinch the two strands together at each end of the twist.
- Move the twist to the prepared baking sheet and form it into a crown around a mason jar. Take each of the ends and tuck them under the respective opposite sides of the crown to hide them.
- Bake it on the middle rack of the oven for 30- 35 minutes.
Making the Orange Icing
- While the crown is baking, make the icing.
- Place the powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl and add the orange juice. Whisk together by hand until you have a smooth thick icing with no clumps.
- Once the bread is golden brown on top and seems to be “set”, remove it from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Leave it to cool for 10-15 minutes, then spread the icing with a spoon or a spatula over the top.
Braided Orange Bread
- Stand Mixer
- 300 grams ap flour
- 8 grams active dry yeast
- 30 grams granulated sugar
- 150 ml milk lukewarm
- 35 grams butter softened
- 1 egg
- 1 orange zested
- 4 oz cream cheese softened
- 1 orange zested
- 200 grams powdered sugar
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- Combine flour, sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the warmed milk and yeast. Stir to combine and incorporate a little bit of the flour and sugar mixture.
- Cover the bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Stir to combine into a shaggy dough. Add in the egg and orange zest and knead until smooth.
- Then add in the butter and knead again. Scrape the bowl as necessary to incorporate the butter.
- Knead on low for 15-20 minutes, until smooth. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rest somewhere warm for 45 min to an hour until doubled in size.
Orange Cream Cheese Filling
- In a microwave safe bowl, briefly (10 seconds) heat the cream cheese in the microwave until it becomes a spreadable consistency.
- Zest an orange into the cream cheese and stir to combine.
Assemble & Baking
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare one baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 30 cm x 45 cm (approx. 12" x 18").
- Spread the filling onto the dough leaving a 1/2" border on the 2 short ends and 1 long side and leave a 1" border on the remaining long side.
- Roll up the dough starting from the long side with a 1/2" border so that you have a skinny log that is 45 cm in length. Pinch the seam closed and roll the log over so it is sitting on the seam. Then seal both of the short ends closed.
- Cut down the center of the log lengthwise so that the cream cheese center is now exposed.
- Twist the two halves together, always making sure that the filling stays face up and exposed. Once twisted, pinch together the ends.
- Transfer the twist to the prepared baking sheet and shape into a wreath with a glass jar in the center.
- Tuck both ends under the crown so that you have a complete circle and the ends are hidden.
- Once shaped, bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
- While the bread is baking, prepare the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar and orange juice and whisk together by hand until you have a thick smooth icing.
- Once baked, remove the bread from the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Once cooled remove the jar from the center and spread the icing over the wreath.