Brioche Tea Cakes

This is a combination of an enriched, yeasted dough with the fruit, zest, and spices of a traditional British tea cake.

My gluten-free recipe is adapted from Pastry Affair’s Cranberry Orange Brioche Rolls which I highly recommend.

Makes: 12 – 18 buns depending on size


For the sponge:

  • One 7g sachet dried yeast
  • 80ml (81g) whole milk, lukewarm
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice, lukewarm
  • 85g runny honey
  • 70g gluten-free flour

For the dough:

  • 425g gluten-free flour, plus additional for shaping
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 170g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 1 orange, zest (and juice for sponge mixture above)
  • 120g raisins
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

For the honey wash:

  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Clingfilm
  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment if you don’t want to knead by hand
  • Baking tray, with parchment/baking paper to line
  • Pastry brush


  1. Sponge: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yeast, milk, and orange juice until the yeast is fully dissolved. Whisk in the honey and flour until fully combined and smooth. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm, draught-free place for around 1 hour, or until the sponge is fermenting and bubbles are forming.
  2. Dough: Mix the flour, salt, xantham gum, and egg into the sponge in the bowl. Knead in the butter, approx. 2 tablespoons at a time. Knead in the orange zest, fruit, and spices. Continue kneading the dough in the bowl for at least another 10 minutes. It’s very important to regularly scrape down the sides and across the bottom, to ensure all of the dough is kneaded. It will be much softer than an ordinary bread dough – it will be slightly silky, more like cake batter.
  3. Re-cover the bowl with clingfilm, and let the dough rise in a warm, draught-free place for 2 hours or until it has doubled in volume.
  4. Lightly flour your fist and punch down the dough, cover again, and allow to rise a second time for 1 – 2 hours, or until it has doubled in volume once again.
  5. Lightly flour your hands, and a work surface. Turn out the dough and divide into 12 equal portions. (Note: This will make up to 18 smaller buns if you prefer.) Roll each portion into a ball, and place on a lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rest an additional 40 minutes. The buns will rise slightly and spread – you’re not waiting for them to double in size, though.
  6. After 30 minutes or so, turn the oven on to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted).
  7. Honey wash: Melt the butter and honey together and coat each bun evenly using a pastry brush.
  8. Bake the buns for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and a tap on the bottom of a couple of buns sounds hollow. They are best served warm, but they freeze amazingly well, too.

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