This orange swirl bread has a cinnamon sugar and orange zest filling and is topped with an orange glaze. The bread is an airy braided yeast loaf!
For the dough:
½ cup (120 mL) whole milk, lukewarm
¼ cup (50 gm) sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups (260 gm) all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, divided
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (55 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the filling:
½ cup (100 gm) sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
½ cup (113 gm) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature.
For the glaze:
1 cup (120 gm) confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tablespoons orange juice
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm milk and half of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over top of the milk and allow the yeast to activate, about 5 minutes. The mixture should froth and foam slightly. You can stir it gently to make sure all the yeast has been moistened, but if the yeast does not foam, dump it out and start over. Once the yeast has been activated, stir in the remaining sugar and 1/2 cup of the flour into the milk mixture. Add 1 egg and the salt and stir to combine. On low speed, add the remaining flour and beat to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Once evenly combined, increase the speed to medium (I use speed number 4 on my KitchenAid stand mixer) and add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then continue to beat on medium speed for an additional 4 minutes or until the dough is moist, sticky, and slightly stretchy.
Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough inside, covering it tightly with a piece of plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot in the kitchen until it has approximately doubled in size, about 1-1/2-2 hours.
Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a 12”x18” rectangle on a lightly floured surface. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest for the filling. Use the back of a fork to cut in the butter, smooshing it together to make a thick paste/spread. Spread this mixture evenly over top of the rolled out dough.
Starting with one of the long ends, roll the dough somewhat tightly into one long tube and pinch the ends of the dough to seal in the filling. Use a sharp knife to slice down the middle of the length of the dough, leaving one inch at the top of one of the ends uncut. You should end with two strands of rolled dough connected by a 1” chunk of dough at the top (this will serve as the starting point for your braid, so you want the dough to remain connected here). Turn the exposed innards of the dough roll to face upwards and then twist the dough, right over left, right over left, until the entire length of dough has been twisted into one long piece. Join the ends of the dough to make a ring, pinching the ends together slightly. Carefully transfer the ring of dough into a lightly greased 10” cast-iron skillet. Cover the skillet with a piece of plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Once the oven is preheated and the loaf has risen slight (about 40 minutes), stir the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush a thin layer of the mixture over the surface of the dough. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is puffed and golden brown throughout. Allow to cool slightly.
Once cooled slightly, combine the confectioner’s sugar and orange juice in a small bowl, whisking until smooth. Add additional sugar, if desired, to thicken it up or extra juice to thin it out. Drizzle over top of the bread and serve. Bread is best served warm and will keep covered at room temperature for 2-3 days.