Lemon-Poppyseed Mini-Brioches (with a couple of healthy tweaks)


On Mondays, it’s my turn to pick up my older daughter from school, and then stop for tea and treats before her guitar lesson.  We’ve been doing this for six years, and I think I love the tradition as much as she does.  Our downtown coffee shop has great coffee and tea, but the baked goods leave a lot to be desired, especially by the time we roll in at 4:00pm.  There’s one exception– they have a lemon-poppyseed pound cake that is just terrific (or it would be, if it were fresh!).  I wondered if we could adapt the brioche from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day to the bright fresh flavor of lemon and the crunchy texture of poppyseed, topped with a simple glaze.  They baked up perfectly in cupcake tins so if you’re inclined to call these cupcakes, go right ahead.  And I snuck in two healthy tweaks to the recipe:  canola oil instead of butter, and even a little whole grain.  Preheat the oven to 350  degrees F.  The dough you’ll use is based on our brioche recipe, with some simple changes.  With the liquid ingredients, add the following…

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

I substituted canola oil for butter today, and I got away with it because I knew I’d be doing these in cupcake tins.  This kind of simple swap would not have worked well for free-form loaves, because of sideways spreading that you get with this much liquid shortenings (eg.,  canola oil).

… and then make some changes in the dry ingredients…

1.  Add the zest from 1 lemon, scraped off with a microzester (try not to include much of the bitter white pith, just the yellow part).

2.  Substitute 3/4 cup of white whole wheat flour for 3/4 cup of the white unbleached all-purpose flour called for in the recipe.  Given this amount of whole grain, and the fact that liquid shortenings yield looser doughs, means that you don’t need to make any changes in the proportion of liquid to dry ingredients.

3.  Add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds.

Because of all this liquid shortening, the result will be a very wet and loose dough, that will not work as a free-form loaf, so don’t try it!


Allow to rest/rise for 2 hours, then into the fridge for up to five days (freeze after that); chilling this dough makes it much easier to handle.   Briefly shape golf-ball sized balls and place in a non-stick muffin tin.  I didn’t grease the non-stick surface but you probably should if you’re using a traditional muffin tin.  I covered loosely with plastic and rested for about an hour (these were small and the dough had been made that day, so an hour was plenty).


Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees F., being careful not to overbake. Eggy doughs like this one can get tough and dry if you overdo it.


Pop out of the pan, cool completely, and brush with a simple glaze.  The Glaze: Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons confectioners sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons milk, and 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract.


Now sprinkle with poppyseeds:




44 thoughts to “Lemon-Poppyseed Mini-Brioches (with a couple of healthy tweaks)”

  1. Wow they have puffed up so good and looks so yumm.
    I just made the peasan european bread from you book today and it is in my kitchen couter cooking. And it looks beautiful if i may say so myself 🙂

  2. Hello,

    I have been eating egg white omelets lately and have 6 egg yolks in the fridge. Can I use these in the Brioche recipe? It calls for 8 eggs, how would I substitute for the missing egg whites?

    Thank you,

  3. How much dough did you use for the 12 “cupcakes”? I want to know because of the lemon zest, extract and poppy seeds.

    Did you add these to the entire recipe and then just use each time the amount needed for one batch?

  4. Kristy: Try your yolks, plus just a little water. Quarter-cup? May take some trial and error.

    Nina: The amounts I made were for the full brioche recipe, of which about 2/3’s were used for the 12 of them.

    Food: Loaf pan should be great, it won’t spread.

  5. Is there a substitute for lemon extract? I have plenty of lemons on the tree and would rather use those if possible. Thanks!

  6. Is “white whole wheat” necessary or will regular whole wheat suffice?

    Also, is there a way to use wheat germ with any of your recipes, including this one?

  7. Hi Janice,

    You can use a 1/4 teaspoon of very fine lemon zest to give you that same flavor. Or you can replace the milk with lemon juice.

    Hi MommaBlogger,

    You can use whole wheat flour instead. We have lots of whole grain recipes in our new book and many of those use wheat germ as well.

    Thanks, Zoë

  8. hi, I think they will taste lovely, must definitely try it this weekend. Saw your tweet about the new book, I already pre-ordered it at amazon! it will be published in october….can’t wait…

  9. Good morning Jeff and Zoe! My mum has requested these for Mother’s day 🙂 so I have a quick question. In the absence of non-stick muffin tins, would you recommend using muffin papers or just greasing the pan really well?
    Thanks so much for everything you do. I love telling friends – and sometimes complete strangers – about your book and how it has revolutionized our approach to bread. And I can’t wait for the new book to come out. 🙂 Congratulations on that, but the way. 🙂

  10. Thanks Hanneke!

    CJ: Should be able to just grease it well– it’s already a pretty “short” dough so it won’t stick. Thanks for the kind words!

  11. These Lemon-Poppyseed Mini-Brioches seem really lovely.
    I must confess my addiction to your Bread in 5 minutes. Since I discovered it, I only prepare it. Thank you for all the information given here.

    Regards from Spain.
    Aprendiz de panadera


  12. Zoe and Jeff, since you’re here in Minnesota have you tried the Rasperry Fritter bread at Nelson Brother’s bakery in Clearwater? I would love to use the methods in the book to create something similar. Any ideas?

  13. Hi Carrie,

    I’ve never heard of Nelson brother’s bakery, but I’m really wishing I could have some of the raspberry fritter bread!

    Thanks, Zoë

  14. I made the dough tonight following the brioche recipe using the butter, the 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour switch, the lemon zest, juice, extract and poppyseeds. It rose nicely and is now in fridge until I can bake tomorrow after work. I wonder if Food Hunter made the loaves? I would like to do that. What do you suggest for baking temp/time? BTW – I have pre-ordered the new book. Looks like you have another best seller on your hands! Thanks so much!

  15. Thanks Eileen! Didn’t hear back from FH, but I’m sure it would work well. Try 30 to 35 minutes at 350F.

  16. Hi Jeff & Zoe! I made the lemon brioche this weekend and it was lovely. 🙂 Guess what – I have another question.

    I’m not going to go through all the rest of the dough right away so I need to figure out the best way to not waste it. Freezing is obviously an option. I’ve got company coming in two weeks and wondered if this dough would be suitable for par-baking, to save some time on a lazy Saturday morning. But the richness and high egg content made me a little nervous to try.
    What do you think?

  17. Hi CJ,

    I think it would work well, especially if you were baking them as buns.

    Just allow the frozen bread to sit at room temperature, still wrapped for about 15 minutes, while the oven preheats. Place the bread in the 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes (for buns), longer for loaves.

    Enjoy, Zoë

  18. Thank you Zoe! It looks like it is going to be a rainy day – what better way to brighten it up than with lemon brioche. 🙂
    Hope you’re enjoying sunshine in the cities.

  19. I’m another person who has become addicted to this kind of bread baking! I have completely retired my bread machine and my Kitchenaid sometimes looks at me sadly. I have a potluck to attend today and this will definitely be on menu! I will probably make it in a loaf pan, but no matter how I make it I know it’ll be good.

  20. love the idea for par baking muffins. Would you freeze the ones CJ is talking about in the muffin tin or would you take them out and then put them back in to finish the baking?

    1. Christina: Par baking could work for just about anything, but the smaller the loaf (like a muffin), the more it might suffer from freezing. Worth a try though. Jeff

    1. Sorry Ivy, I’m not convinced. Canola has taken some bashing on the web, but the material being quoted is not scientific evidence. Jeff

  21. In my first attempt at 10 grain bread, the dough failed to rise after mixing. Using the recipe pg 111 of HBin5min I substituted KA whole wheat flour for white whole wheat. I weighed the unbleached AP and WW flours, the Red Star yeast is refrigerated and less than 1 month old. The water temp was measured at 100F. The dough sat on the counter for about 3-4 hours before going into the frig. There was not any rise in the dough either on the counter or in the frig. After 1 week I tried baking a loaf but again there was no rise. What did I do wrong?

    1. John: First question: when baked, was it nothing but solid baked dough, without any hole structure at all? If so, you had a true yeast failure…

      If the yeast truly failed, options are:
      Inaccurate thermometer reading for your yeast test? If water too hot, yeast will be killed.
      Have you used this same yeast with success in other loaves?
      Contamination with something in your water mix?
      Accidentally used (way) too much salt?

      Have you used our method in other loaves? What else have you baked from the HealthyBreadIn5 book? Do you also have the first book?

  22. Hi Jeff and Zoe, This lemon poppy seed muffin sounds wonderful. It reminded me that I’d like to try something similar with a new Vanilla Chai Cakelette Recipe from KAF at https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/vanilla-chai-cakelets-recipe. I would like to bake a Chai Brioche dough like that in a muffin, cakelette, or mini bundt cake pan. So far, I’ve multiplied the spices x 4 (that was easy), and the delicious Chai tea syrup recipe to top each “cakelette” would remain the same. But adapting a “cakelette” to an ABin5 yeast bread with the proper measurements for liquids (i.e., for eggs, canola oil instead of butter, brown and white sugars instead of honey, sour cream, vanilla paste) in proper proportion to flour has me stumped! I’m just not experienced enough! (And I don’t want to end up with 4 pounds of soggy or hard dough that won’t bake properly.) Can you suggest how we might adapt that Vanilla Chai Cakelette recipe to turn it into a yummy ABin5 brioche cake-like dessert? It sounds so good!

    1. Hi Vicki,

      The recipe you are trying to recreate is a cake, not a bread, so it isn’t going to translate to our method. If you want something with similar flavors, but a bread, then I would add the spices to the brioche dough (not chocolate), bake them and brush with the syrup as they are coming out of the oven. It will have a VERY different texture than the cake, but it will have the same flavors. If you want to make a healthier version, then start with the brioche recipe in Healthy Bread in Five.

      Enjoy! Zoë

      1. Zoe, I think I understand. And it IS the flavor I would be looking for – as well as the little shapes – and I don’t think we would mind the pastry bread texture, so I’ll give it a try the way you describe it!

  23. P.S. To make it a bit healthier, I’d like to use a ratio of about 1/3 White Whole Wheat Flour to about 2/3 All Purpose Flour. However, this too would affect the ratio of wet to dry ingredients and I wasn’t sure of the best measurements in Cups, in order to arrive at a brioche wet but springy enough to bake in mini muffin, cakelette or mini brioche pans. I hope you can help!

  24. Zoe, thank you, and I think I understand. The texture will be a pastry bread, not a cake, but the flavor and aroma will be like Chai. So leave the ABin5 brioche recipe pretty much as is (although I think I’ll follow the modified lemon poppy seed brioche recipe, with the Chai flavors. It’s worth a try! I’m planning to try it before the Holidays. – Vicki

  25. Jeff & Zoe you did a great job with this delicious recipe! They were such super delicious so I had to make a second batch on the same day.

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