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Chocolate Orange Swirl Buns

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During the holidays, my baking leans towards more festive and seasonal ingredients. These swirl buns look impressive and yet are surprisingly easy to make. The wonderful scents of winter citrus, cardamom, candied orange peel, and chocolate will permeate your kitchen as the buns bake in the oven.

  • Yield: 6


For the Buns

¼ cup/50 g sugar

½ cup/120 ml whole milk

¼ cup/55 g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature

½ tsp fine sea salt

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 ½ tsp active dry yeast

2 cups/280 g all-purpose flour

½ tsp ground green cardamom

Zest of 1 large orange

For the Filling

7 oz/200 g chopped bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao)

2 Tbsp unsalted butter melted

¼ cup/20 g candied orange peel, finely chopped

1 large egg

2 Tbsp warm water

1/4 cup/60 ml golden syrup* (See Notes) 


  1. Add the sugar, milk, butter, and salt to a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the temperature reaches 110F/43C. Remove from the heat and whisk in the yeast and egg.
  2. Whisk the flour, cardamom, and zest together in the stand mixer bowl fitted with the dough blade attachment. Pour in the milk mixture and knead over slow speed until combined, then knead over medium speed until the dough forms a sticky mass, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead, and shape it by hand to form a ball. Place the dough in a lightly greased large bowl, cover with a lid or damp kitchen towel, and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rough 10 in by 12 in/25 cm by 30.5 cm long rectangle, dusting lightly with flour as needed.
  4. Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium mixing bowl held over a saucepan filled with an inch of barely simmering water. The water should never touch the base of the bowl. Once the chocolate is smooth, fold in the orange. If the mixture is very hot, let it rest until cool enough to handle yet remain spreadable. Using an offset spatula or a silicone spatula, spread the mixture on the rolled-out dough, leaving a ½ in/12 mm gap on each side. Starting with the longest side, roll the dough over itself to form a log. Seal the edge with a bit of water. Transfer the log to a baking sheet lightly dusted with a bit of flour and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes to help firm the dough up. This will make slicing easier.
  5. Line the Lodge Cast Iron baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Using a sharp serrated knife or a long piece of dental floss, cut the dough into two inch/5 cm, thick slices. If using the floss, slide the floss under the dough, wrap the two ends of the floss around the top, and pull in opposite directions to slice through the dough.
  6. Carefully transfer the dough slices to the prepared Lodge Cast Iron baking pan, cut side down. Leave a 1 ½ in/4 cm gap between each bun. Cover with a lightly floured kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  7. When ready to bake, remove the towel. Whisk the egg with the water and brush the tops and sides of the bread well. Bake the buns in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown; the internal temperature should read 200F/93C on an instant-read thermometer. Rotate the pan halfway through during baking. Remove the pan from the oven, let the buns cool for 15 minutes, and brush the hot buns with the golden syrup or honey-lemon juice mixture. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  8. These buns taste best the day they’re made, but they can be wrapped with cling film and stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. Reheat at 300F/150C to warm.


  • 110F/43C is the ideal temperature for yeast to grow.
  • Replace the golden syrup, mix 1/4 cup/60 ml runny honey and 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Because the filling contains chocolate, I prefer to line the base of the baking pan with a layer of parchment paper.

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