This braided bread is a true homemade bread recipe, not a sweet dessert bread, and is filled with notes of chocolate and orange in the best way possible. It’s let me go to The Cheesecake Factory or Outback Steakhouse so I can get that good brown bread kind of bread. Panera Bread vibes all the way. Best of all, the sweetness of the chocolate and orange are in your face but in the most subtle way. This homemade brown bread pairs wonderfully with a variety of toppings so make it sweet or keep it savory. You choose!
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS HOMEMADE BROWN BREAD RECIPE
It’s a homemade bread recipe that pairs well with sweet or savory toppings
Restaurant quality- like The Cheesecake Factory, Outback Steakhouse brown bread worthy!
It’s as beautiful as it is delicious
Easy to make. This is truly a beginner baker’s bread recipe.
A great bread to use for bread pudding and French toast.
Disclaimer & Disclosure: There may be affiliate links in this post. Nothing here should be taken as medical advice. Please consult with a certified dietician or nutritionist about nutritional needs specific to you.
How In The World Is A Chocolate Orange Bread Not Sweet Bread?
Listen, so one day I decided to try to make orange marmalade without pectin. It was a huge fail. But I used that fail to make this magical bread. Some of my favorite creations come from failed recipe testing.
How do you eat this bread? Any way you like. It’s a great bread for a charcuterie board. Here are my favorite ways to enjoy this homemade bread.
Spread honey butter on it (if vegan use maple syrup or brown sugar and vegan butter for your brown butter)
A nice thick slice of cheddar cheese and butter (or just plaint butter)
Dip it into a hot brie that is filled with nuts, honey, and blistered fruity syrup
Drizzle chocolate syrup all over it and slather it with orange marmalade or your favorite jammy jam.
Tips + Notes To Make This Homemade Vegan Braided Bread Perfect Every Time
Are Exact Measurements Necessary To Make This Homemade Bread Recipe?
I do not always use exact measurements, but I do stick pretty close. Here are the things you really need to do in order to get this homemade bread done properly.
Use all purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour. I found that whole wheat flour made the texture weird.
Use warm milk. Not boiling, and not cold. Warm. To keep it simple, it’s chemistry.
Put the salt on side side of the mixing bowl and the yeast and sugar on the other side together before mixing. Again, chemistry. Salt reacts with yeast so you don’t want them canceling each other out while prepping ingredients.
Keep to the side 1 extra cup of flour so that if hand kneading dough or when rolling out the dough after the first rise, you have extra to help in the process so the dough doesn’t stick to the surface.
Listen to your bread! Don’t be tempted to open the oven until near the end. Then listen for little to no bubbling. If it sounds loud, your bread is likely not done baking.
I used a homemade mixture as my “orange marmalade” base. This mixture kept it perfectly orange but subtle.
Like I mentioned earlier, this orange marmalade-like mixture works great as a mixture but I would definitely add more sugar if using it as orange marmalade so repeat, this is not a true orange marmalade. I do think store bought will work just as well, but may end up being a little sweeter since this mixture isn’t sweet.
Here’s what’s in it:
2 oranges, plus chopped peel from both oranges
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
Sauté all ingredients on stovetop for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and blend in blender. Place in a mason jar. This makes such more than the recipe calls for but I like adding this mixture when I want a natural orange flavor for pancakes, waffles, bread pudding, or anything else orange.
I also keep this recipe with less sugar by using sugar free chocolate syrup. I love Torani brand, and I’ve linked it here.
Hand kneading vs Machine- What’s better to make homemade bread?
I have hand kneaded this bread, used a machine to knead the dough, and also used my Vitamix to make my dough, Each time, my bread turned out the same. What’s most important, is the order in which you add ingredients so please add ingredients as listed in the recipe card to achieve the desired results.
In addition to the importance of adding ingredients in a certain order and the other tips mentioned earlier, the rise is important. There are two rising sessions. The first and second are very important so make sure to pay attention to those notes in the recipe card.
How To Made the Braid
Braided bread sounds hard, but if you can make a simple plait in hair, you got this. After the first rise, punch the ball to release air. Then separate the dough into three pieces. Roll them into long thin even pieces, similar to a rope. I use my hands to achieve this. Then I simply connect the three pieces at one end and make a braid.
Homemade Chocolate Orange Braided Bread
This braided bread is a true homemade bread recipe, not a sweet dessert bread, and is filled with notes of chocolate and orange in the best way possible. It's let me go to The Cheesecake Factory or Outback Steakhouse so I can get that good brown bread kind of bread. Panera Bread vibes all the way. Best of all, the sweetness of the chocolate and orange are in your face but in the most subtle way. This homemade brown bread pairs wonderfully with a variety of toppings so make it sweet or keep it savory. You choose! 26g Carbs 6g Fat 1.9g Protein
electric bread machine for kneading dough (optional) or Vitamix (optional)
large flat baking tray
3cupsAll purpose unbleached flour If kneading by hand, keep an additional 1 cup to the side for when kneading dough for surface and if dough extremely wet when kneading and need to add more…will likely not use all of it
1cupWarm unsweetened non-dairy coconut milk or milk of choice
¼cupOlive oil or canola oil
1tbspYeast Active Dry Instant Yeast, I use the one in the yellow package
½cupGranulated white sugar
2 tbspCocoa PowderHershey 100% cocoa powder
¼cupSugar free Torani chocolate syrup or chocolate syrup of choice
3tbsp Orange marmalade Instructions provided below for the homemade orange marmalade mixture I used. This is not to be used on its own as a spreadable marmalade
Orange Marmalade Mixture for Use Only As An Additive to Recipes (Not a spreadable marmalade for toast)
2Oranges, plus chopped peel from both oranges
⅔cupGranulated white sugar
1Lemon, juice only
Orange Marmalade Mixture
Sauté all ingredients on stovetop for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool and blend in blender. Place in a mason jar and store in refrigerator. Use within 2 months.
This makes much more than the recipe calls for but I like adding this mixture when I want a natural orange flavor for pancakes, waffles, bread pudding, or anything else orange.
Chocolate Orange Braided Bread
Mix dry ingredients and marmalade together until fully incorporated.
Add milk and sugar free syrup at the same times and then slowly add oil last a little at a time
If kneading by hand after adding milk and syrup, the oil is added slowly. It will be a sticky dough.
If making dough using Vitamix, blend all ingredients together and remove, scraping the sides well. Then knead to form a ball. It will be a sticky dough.
If kneading using a machine, knead for about 5 minutes.
Place round ball of dough in a large mixing bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Place in an area ideally with good sunlight covered with kitchen towel and allow to rise for one hour. The dough will double in size.
Give the risen dough a good punch to remove the air.
Part the dough into three even pieces. If preferred, use a kitchen scale to weigh each piece.
Form each piece into a long rope like piece by sprinkling flour on your counter and rolling out dough using your two hands in a back and forth motion
Connect the ends of all three pieces on one end and braid as though braiding hair. It does not need to be perfect. It will look beautiful so make it your own.
Grease a large flat baking tray and place braided dough onto tray.
Cover back with kitchen towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
During second rise, preheat oven to 350°F.
Bake for 35 minutes.
Remove from heat and listen to your bread. If it still sounds like a lot of loud bubbling, put back in the over for no more than 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Dress it up with chocolate syrup and jam of choice or each with a nice slice of thick cheddar cheese or peanut butter!
GOT QUESTIONS? I’m happy to help. Leave a comment and add some stars to let me know if you enjoyed this recipe. Let me know how you re-created it too. Also, please share it on social media. Tag #thenaturalfoodie. Thanks! -Salei
Salei, The Natural Foodie
Hey foodies! I’m Salei. I am a mom, partner of a law firm, and the cook in my home. Enjoy my tasty, low sugar, low carb, and high-protein recipes, easy recipes, as well as healthier Caribbean recipes and other international recipes. Learn more about me at my FAQ page.