I have a confession to make, I don’t recognize coffee cake or cinnamon rolls as breakfast. I know, the horror. How dare I speak ill of meal-time-sanctioned pastries? I swear to you, I am not a joy bandit. But I really can’t help but feel that sugar is no substitute for a meal. And no, I’m not about to launch into a rant about the dubious nutrition of our modern eating habits. Eat the coffee cake, eat the cinnamon roll, have two by all means. But just don’t call them “breakfast”. They’re not and neither are these Cinnamon Brioche Twists.
Yes, I am a “balanced” breakfast human. I feel like the morning should have a whole grain or fruit component of some sort. That is to say, even the most indulgent brunch should fuel you at least a little. Dessert, on the other hand, can be as out-to-lunch and nutritionally bat-sh*t-crazy as your self-indulgent heart desires. And that is totally what I was thinking with when I dreamed up these Cinnamon Brioche Twists.
Now, I will admit that when I thought these sugar bombs up, I did think of calling them brunch. But when I tasted them, I knew they were anything but. And once I thought to add the Apple Cider Caramel dip, a nod to the universally beloved churro, I knew there was no way this could be breakfast. Real talk: if you ate one of these in the morning and took full advantage of the caramel, the only reasonable thing to do afterward is sleep for the rest of the day and that’s just not my aesthetic.
Weekends are fleeting enough without devoting the time to sleep off a sugar binge. So, please, make the most of your Saturdays and Sundays and leave the pastries for a more sensible hour. Really, when you think about it, it is in those last few hours of your weekend when you need a pastry the most. Sunday scaries don’t stand a chance against the combined power of butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
Yes, these Brioche Cinnamon Twists are the most satisfying chew after you’ve washed the dishes. You know, that sacred moment when you’ve brought the kitchen back to sanity following the evening meal and now there is nothing but Netflix and maybe a glass of scotch in your future. That’s when you deploy these Brioche Cinnamon Twists. And give them a quick 15-second blast in the microwave while you’re at it. You won’t regret it.
Now, let’s talk recipe. Brioche is intimidating to most, so if you think they’re beyond your skill, you’re not alone. But let me reassure you, a buttery brioche is well within your grasp and no, the road to it does not include a pastry box. Brioche is actually a fairly simple yeasted dough consisting of flour, milk, yeast, sugar, and eggs. It comes together in a stand mixer like any other bread dough, so if you’ve made a french stick, you’re up for this.
Brioche differs from a more straight forward bread dough because it contains an extra step. With brioche, you have to slowly knead in cubes of softened butter. Quite a bit of butter to be exact. I bring this up, not because it’s particularly hard, but because it felt a little odd to me when I did it the first time.
When you first start integrating the butter, you will notice it building up on the sides of the bowl. The dough may look primed to separate. And honestly, there will be times when the dough will look like a broken mess. You will panic, you will curse the recipe, and you will blame yourself. But you will also have your faith restored when the dough magically comes back together. If there is one thing I’ve learned making brioche over and over again it’s this – after you add a little butter forget about the dough for 5 minutes. Nine times out of the ten the butter will be fully integrated by the time you check on it. You will have the perfect brioche and you will have spared yourself a nasty shame spiral.
From there it’s a simple case of letting the brioche dough rise and then it’s time to shape. Once the dough is shaped, I think it’s best to let the dough rise again overnight in the fridge. Brioche bakes up fluffier when the butter in the dough is allowed to chill. At this point, all the hard work is done and you’ve made basic brioche. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Way easier than croissants!
After a brief trip in the oven, the finished brioche is dunked in melted butter (you heard me!) and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. And that’s the it! The Apple Cider Caramel is even simpler to pull off, but I will leave that explanation to the recipe below. The important take-home point here is both the brioche and caramel will make your house smell like it’s been staged to move by an overly ambitious realtor.
So, that’s everything you need to know about this Cinnamon Brioche Twists with Apple Cider Caramel. They’re a deliciously indulgent nosh but please, just don’t call them brunch.
Cinnamon Brioche Twists with Apple Cider Caramel
- Stand mixer
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 9g (0.3oz) dry active yeast
- 3 eggs beaten
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar divided
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened, divided
- 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
Apple Cider Caramel
- 2 cups apple cider
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- finishing salt for sprinkling
For the Brioche
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan and place over low heat. Heat the milk until just lukewarm. Take the pan off of the stove and sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the milk. Let stand for 10 minutes or until foamy.
- Pour the milk mixture into a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Mix the dough on medium-low speed until a sticky dough starts to form.
- Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments until the dough is smooth, silky, and slightly tacky to the touch. You may or may not have to use all the flour listed to achieve this consistency or you may have to use slightly more.
- Take 1/2 cup of the softened butter and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Add the butter to the dough 3-4 cubes at a time, only adding more once the previous addition is fully integrated. This should take a little time, so be patient.
- Once the butter is fully integrated, take the dough out of the mixing bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes before forming into a ball. Transfer the ball to a large bowl greased with vegetable oil. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and divide it into 10 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece out to a long rope, roughly the length of a ruler. Roll the ends of each rope out to form a point. Fold the rope in half and coil the ends around each other 3 or 4 times. Pinch the ends together to seal. Transfer the formed twists to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat with the remaining dough.
- Once all the twists are formed, cover the baking sheet lightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge. Let the twists rise overnight or for 8 hours.
- The next morning, preheat the oven to 375°F. Take the brioche out of the fridge and leave them to rise a little further on the kitchen counter while the oven preheats.
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Think of this as makeup for the brioche, if you don't have an extra egg, don't fret it will still taste the same. Using a pastry brush, brush the surface of the brioche with the egg wash.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes before rotating the pan. Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Take the brioche out of the oven and transfer a cooling rack.
- Once the brioche is cool enough to handle. Place the remaining butter in a large bowl and place it in the microwave. Melt the butter in 30-second increments until completely melted. In another bowl, whisk to combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon.
- Dunk each brioche in the butter and rotate to ensure each is completely covered in butter. Transfer the brioche to the bowl with the cinnamon sugar and roll to ensure complete coverage. Transfer the brioche to a platter and serve immediately with Apple Cider Caramel.
For the Caramel
- Pour the apple cider into a large skillet and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a spirited simmer. Let the apple cider cook down to roughly a 1/4 of a cup. This should take 20-30 minutes.
- Once the apple cider has reduced, stir in the brown sugar and butter. Cook over low heat until thick and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Take the caramel off of the heat and whisk in the cream. Let cool before transferring to a jar.
- Serve while warm or transfer to the fridge until ready to serve. If you do store the caramel in the fridge, reheat it slightly prior to serving by popping it in the microwave for 20 seconds.