Thanksgiving Pumpkin Brioche Swirl Buns With Chocolate Ganache and Whole Wheat

Winter is slowly approaching (although here in Minneapolis we hit 70 degrees this past weekend!), and that means the smell of pumpkin is in the air. These swirl buns came together on a whim; we were asked to bring something to a brunch, and there was pumpkin pie brioche dough in the fridge, a favorite recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. A little chocolate ganache was easily whipped together, and after an overnight rise in the fridge, these buns were baked off in the morning, filling our house with early Holiday cheer.

The original recipe for this dough was made with White Whole Wheat for a lighter effect, but we decided to re-test it with traditional whole wheat…

… because this dough is made from a mixture of whole grain and white flour, using traditional whole wheat didn’t really change the effect.  These buns are tasty, but remember: though they look like gooey cinnamon rolls, they definitely are not; the bittersweet chocolate and brioche make for a more sophisticated treat. But, I’m happy to report that my children readily gobbled them up.

Pumpkin Brioche Swirl Buns with Chocolate Ganache

1 pound pumpkin pie brioche (Healthy Bread in Five page 284) or whole wheat brioche

1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water


Chocolate Ganache

1/4 pound (4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon bourbon

5 tablespoons corn syrup

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave until smooth. Remove from heat, add the butter, and stir until smooth. Stir the cocoa powder into the bourbon, add the corn syrup, and mix until smooth. Add to the chocolate, and mix again until smooth.


Starting with 1 pound of pumpkin brioche, shape the dough into a ball, then roll into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle, dusting with flour as needed.

Spread the ganache evenly over the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border (an off-set spatula works good for this).

Starting with the long end, roll up the dough, pinching it together.

Using a scissors or a sharp serrated knife, cut the dough into 12 even pieces.

Place the cut pieces of dough into a greased muffin tin, and let rise for 30-40 minutes, or until dough is puffed over the top of the tin. (These buns can also rise over night in the fridge; pull them out in the morning and let rise at room temperature for 30-40 minutes.) Preheat the oven to 350 at this point. After the dough has risen, bake for 25-35 minutes, until buns are golden brown. Let cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack. Enjoy!


20 thoughts to “Thanksgiving Pumpkin Brioche Swirl Buns With Chocolate Ganache and Whole Wheat”

  1. I’ll have to try this! Pumpkin Brioche may be my favorite bread dough. We’ve made cinnamon rolls with maple-cream-cheese frosting with it, but I hadn’t thought of adding chocolate.

  2. We must have had that pumpkin pie brioche and buns/rolls on the brain at the same time. Right about the time you were posting I was staring at my nearly-empty canister of white whole wheat flour and wondering what the next best substitute would be. We love the pumpkin pie brioche made into cinnamon buns at this time of year so I’ll try them with regular whole wheat flour. Thanks!

  3. What a perfect holiday (or any other day!) breakfast. I love the idea of that dark chocolate ganache running through it and Sarah has taken some gorgeous pictures!

  4. Would these freeze well before baking and just allow them to defrost and rise overnight in the refrigerator. I’ve got so much going on Thanksgiving and that weekend but am feeding a houseful (10) of people 11 meals over the 4 days. These might make a great addition to our Saturday brunch (that celebrates Christmas.)

  5. I positively love your recipes and haven’t bought a single loaf of bread since buying all three of your books seven months ago!
    Question: I just mixed up Gluten-free olive oil bread (Healthy Bread, page 238)last night (hoping to bake it for a celiac friend two days from now) but the dough is very “mucky” – perhaps my “large” eggs are larger than yours. I hate to waste all the expensive ingredients – can I incorporate more flour now, and if so which one?

  6. Thank you for this recipe. I ended up making it as a currant/pecan/cinnamon/brown sugar swirl bread in a sugared pan, and it was like the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. 🙂

  7. Hi,

    I made these buns with a cinnamon sugar filling instead of ganache and they turned out great. I have a question: do you think I could substitute regular whole wheat flour for the white whole wheat in the whole wheat brioche dough in Healthy Bread in Five? I love whole grain flavors and I wonder if I could amp up the flavor a bit by using regular whole wheat. Since it worked in the pumpkin brioche, I wondered if it would work in whole wheat brioche.

  8. I had some regular brioche dough in the frig so I made these buns with hazelnut spread to serve with coffee at a meeting I was hosting. They were a hit.

  9. Hi,

    I just made these with whole wheat brioche dough and they are fantastic. Question: do you think the leftovers would still be good tomorrow? Perhaps if I refresh them in the oven for about 5 minutes before eating? If you think they won’t store well I’ll freeze the leftovers. Thanks.

    1. Hi Ingrid,

      They will probably last one day, but they are always best the day they are made. I think reheating them will certainly help.

      Thanks, Zoë

  10. I’m so glad you reposted this recipe on your facebook page. I made these for Thanksgiving day breakfast, with the assistance of my 8 yr old niece. They were delicious & my niece declared us both “brilliant baker chefs”, which is high praise indeed. & the leftovers froze & reheated wonderfully. This recipe will be going in the keeper file.

    1. Hi Jenn,

      It is so fantastic that you and your niece got to bake these together. Cheers to the Brilliant Baker Chefs!

      Happy holidays, Zoë

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