Spiced brioche rolls

July 16, 2011  •  Category:

There is a very traditional sweet bread/cake in Lebanon that used to be sold in the streets of Beirut by cart vendors; this cake is called sfoof and has a very distinct bright yellow color due to turmeric in the batter.

Apparently, turmeric is a very beneficial spice and I had been looking for ways to incorporate it in my cooking more often.

This brioche replicates the  flavors of a traditional sfoof cake: Turmeric, anise; in addition, it contains mahlab, a common spice for baked goods, orange blossom water, and some pistachios for a garnish.

If you like braiding hair, you can braid these rolls and have fun with it. Divide the dough into small balls, stretch them into ropes and braid away.

Recipe contains three types of milk: Fresh milk, powdered milk and sweetened condensed milk.

To read up on turmeric, click here.

For a sfoof recipe, click here and here and here.

This brioche recipe comes from Saveurs et Gourmandises, Nadji’s blog. I added the spices.


  • 500 g. or 2 cups (16 ounces) of unbleached flour
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 100 g. of sweetened condensed milk (3.5 ounces)
  • 100 g. of powdered milk (3.5 ounces)
  • 200 to 250 ml. of fresh milk (2 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon of instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 100 g. of unsalted butter (7 tablespoons) at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon anise seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons of orange blossom water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of mahlab


  1. Proof the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm milk.
  2. Mix flour, salt, powdered milk, mahlab, turmeric, anise seeds until combined.
  3. Mix eggs with condensed milk; add proofed yeast to the mixture. Add the flour and mix, then add the milk. Batter will be very sticky and wet. Keep mixing for 15 minutes or until the batter leaves the sides of the bowl. Add the orange blossom water.
  4. Add the butter in small chunks until it is absorbed into the batter. Let the dough rest, covered, in a warm place, till it doubles in size.
  5. Press all the gases out and cut into small rounds; cover and let rise. Shape the rounds into ropes and braid and twirl to from a snake. Brush a beaten yolk on the surface and add some chopped pistachios to the rolls.
  6. Bake in a 350F oven for 15 minutes or until golden and dry. Cool and serve.


28 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    They are so beautiful and tempting! A wonderful speciality.



  2. Lyndsey says:

    Mmmm…this looks wonderful. I would love to smell how good it must smell while baking. I am growing some turmeric…I picked up some fresh root when I was in Michigan visiting my parents. I guess you can eat the leaves too!

  3. Larry Struhall says:

    Those rolls look so good. I love your videos also. When are you going to start you own cooking show? I would love to meet you for coffee somewhere to catch up on things. How are Alice and Nick? You can respond to me on my email.

  4. Devaki says:

    I love the curves like a woman’s hair bun! Gorgeous color, texture, flavor – everything!

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  5. Tammy says:

    I actually take a supplement of turmeric everyday so it’s fun to see more recipes that use it.

  6. Jeannie says:

    I love the way you shape your brioche, so gorgeous and the colour! Simply beautiful!

  7. Angel of the North says:

    My belt won’t fit if I look at that picture for too long – gorgeous…………….

  8. Murasaki Shikibu says:

    You are so prolific and I love your recipes. I would really like to try this one out some day!

  9. Yasmeen says:

    Absolutely gorgeous, wow! The braiding is perfect, nice handiwork, and the flavors of course remind me of home. I also love your plates + cups… really makes me ache for a trip to a souk.

  10. deana says:

    I just love turmeric. I recently had a lovely greek bread with mastic and loved it… this looks equally as delicious…. plus a lovely color.

  11. Alicia (Foodycat) says:

    It looks so delicious! Perfect for breakfast.

  12. Jamie says:

    I have a weakness for sweet brioche-type rolls and these sound fabulous! Yours are just gorgeous! I will have to try them….

  13. domi says:

    adorable petite briochette torsadée….

  14. Sonia Rumzi says:

    OMG Joumana, that is great. Delicious.

  15. Barbara says:

    I do adore brioche. And I’ve made rolls once with condensed milk, too. (Almost ate them all myself!)
    I love the idea of tumeric, anise and pistachios in your sfoof.
    Gorgeous photos, Joumana!

  16. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    Interesting twist to the brioche with tumeric. And I have seen this spice a few times this week. A new trend? The brioche looks wonderful. Love how you seek out all the health benefits for us 🙂

  17. gula welat says:

    très joli façonnage pour ces petites brioches! Elles ont l’air délicieuses. Bisou

  18. Cooking Foodie says:

    These look beautiful and the spices and condensed milk are an interesting combination…

  19. Magic of Spice says:

    Beautiful flavors and spice in these lovely braided brioche…wonderful!

  20. Snippets of Thyme says:

    Indeed, they look so delicious. I love to hear how the food is sold (cart vendors) and eaten in countries so far away! It appears every country loves delicious bread.

  21. Peter says:

    What lovely looking rolls, why are they not sold on the streets any more? These sound like a good way to eat breakfast on the run.

    • Joumana says:

      @Peter: After the war, a lot of cart vendors disappeared unfortunately, in Beirut. The little sfoof cakes are still found in every bakery specializing in Arabic pastries. These rolls are my invention, based on the flavors of the sfoof.

  22. Nuts about food says:

    These look like little sculptures.

  23. Oui, Chef says:

    I’ve never braided hair, but am willing to give it a try if it will help me to make these lovelies! – S

  24. Elena says:

    Joumana, really wonderful buns!
    With what dairy product I can replace condensed milk ? I am sensitive to cow milk , so I can use a powdered and fresh goat milk and I can use a whipping cream.
    I didn’t know how I can replace condensed milk and was so inspired by your magic buns, that I baked something same – roll with apricot/almond/cream filling and orange blossom water scented with saffron scented ,yeast dough.

    • Joumana says:

      @Elena: Your buns with this wonderful apricot and almond filling look to die for~~love that tang and sweet that apricot imparts especially when coupled with soft bread rolls. I am sure goat milk would be a fine substitute or a creamy cheese as well.

  25. Elena says:

    Thanks, Joumana!
    Are you mean -cream cheese instead of of condensed milk? Will this work?

    • Joumana says:

      Try it with a creamy cheese like kiri; cream cheese could work too I suppose but you’d need to add more liquid to it, either water or better yet orange juice.

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