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Plum brioche with cinnamon crumble topping

Updated: Thu, 4 January, 2024

Gloriously buttery brioche base with syrupy plums sitting on it in rows, and all of it smothered in crunchy, melting, cinnamon crumble. Warm or cold, it’s divine.

plum brioche with cinnamon crumble

Is brioche cake?

Brioche is a soft, rich bread bun with sweetness racked up to the cake standards. Or so we think as in reality all those French breakfast confections are not that high in sugar content.

But pain au chocolat, croissants, brioche and pain au raisins all LOOK sweet and SMELL sweet so we assume they also taste it. And that’s the case of misleading appearances.

Brioches, pains aux anything and croissants, plus any laminated pastry dough called Danish or Viennoise depending on where you are, contain very little sugar. Brioche dough has some but then so does challah and challah is within the bread not cake realm.

Croissants and laminated pastries can be made completely without sugar even though I usually add some only to give the yeast a little encouragement. The sweetness is in the topping or filling: raisins, chocolate, fruit and icing – or all of these at once.

plum brioche

What is a classic brioche?

Classic brioche has the prescribed fluted shape from being baked in a dedicated tin, and an odd dough ball on top, the purpose of which is unclear to me.

Its crust is more like a skin than bread crust: lustrous, shiny and paper thin. It hides the softest, meltiest, richest and butteriest centre, which obviously doesn’t need extra butter slathered on it for your breakfast. Though I do it anyway.

brioche base with plums and streusel

Turning brioche into cake

This time I’ve ventured turning it into a cake, to see if the trace amounts of sugar in the dough amplified by sweet fruit and copious sprinkling of crumble on top would deceive into thinking it’s a cake.

And of course it works – the base is soft, tender and pillowy, the first bite is into the crunchy streusel followed by syrupy baked plum so who would notice that the dough isn’t very sweet? It actually needn’t or shouldn’t be sweet in order to create a non-sickly balance.

A note to the recipe: brioche dough is so rich when freshly kneaded it’s almost liquid. That’s why it needs to chill for an hour or overnight to be manageable. If you desperately need to do the whole thing in one day, allow at least a couple of hours of chilling.

I have based my basic dough recipe on a dive into assorted French brioche recipes with Larousse Cuisine providing the biggest input. Topping a rich yeast dough base with fruit and crumble is more of a German or Austrian thing and that I owe to my grandmother’s delightful Zwetschgenkuchen.

cinnamon and plum brioche

How to make brioche dough?

It is significantly better made with French flour type 55, but if unavailable, just use strong white bread flour.

Fresh yeast is my favourite and if you are using it, let it activate first by stirring it into buttermilk warmed up to room temperature with a spoonful of sugar.

If you’re using instant yeast, go ahead and add it straight to the flour with all the other ingredients except butter – and plums, obviously.

A standing mixer will be very handy here, working the dough for ten minutes at high speed. Otherwise it’s elbow grease for at least half an hour, rewarding but tough.

When the dough is springy, bouncy and elastic, start adding soft butter by a spoonful, waiting until absorbed before adding more. That’s certainly a job for the mixer!

At the end of the process the dough will be glossy, smooth and very loose. It would be difficult to shape it at this stage so best to let it ferment and set in the fridge overnight.

brioche dough

The crumble and the plums

The following day, when ready to bake, prepare your crumble topping by rubbing butter into the dry ingredients. Plums, depending on the size, should be stoned and halved or quartered.

crumble topping

The dough will now be less sticky but handle it gently, stretching to cover the bottom of your tin or dish but trying not to tear.

stretching brioche dough

Next the plums: make sure to push them in as deep into the dough as you can. As the brioche base rises, it tends to eject whatever fruit is sitting on it.

When risen, after about an hour and while the oven has preheated, sprinkle the crumble over the plums, pushing the naughty ones back in, and into the oven it goes.

proving plum brioche

You can scatter some raisins amongst the plums, or chopped almonds if you like. A generous sprinkle of cinnamon or mixed spice, if you prefer, will be on order too.

This brioche-cake is absolutely gorgeous warm from the oven and definitely best on the day. But you can wrap leftovers well in foil and warm up or toast briefly on the next day.

plum brioche out of the oven

More brioche recipes

Buttery and barely sweet brioche, home baked breakfast fit for a king. Paper-thin glossy crust and the softest, meltiest crumb hiding inside, waiting only for a lick of good jam.

Fluffy and rich brioche rolls made with Japanese milk starter, tangzhong, proved overnight for rich flavour. Well suited for fine dinner and for a bacon sandwich.

Cherry chocolate bread, sourdough based brioche filled with a mix of white chocolate chips, glace cherries and almond flakes. It's easy to make with yeast instead, and the perfect weekend breakfast idea.

More plum recipes

Plum crumble breakfast bars, cinnamon flavoured, reduced in sugar content, are just the thing for those whose sweet tooth is awake at breakfast time.

This is the best and the easiest plum cake with crumble topping. German plum cake with streusel where plums can be swapped for any other soft fruit, it's brilliant every time.

Sweet sourdough buns filled with jam and rolled like Chelsea buns to pull apart and share. There’s nothing better for breakfast than a sweet sourdough bun with jam.

brioche with plums cinnamon and crumble

Plum brioche with cinnamon crumble topping

Servings: 18Time: 1 hour plus overnight proving


  • For the brioche base:
  • 10g (1 tbsp) fresh or 3 g (1 tsp) instant yeast
  • 65g (14 cup) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 45g (3 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 250g (2 cups) French flour type 55 or strong bread flour
  • 12 tsp fine salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 115g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 9 large plums
  • a handful of raisins (optional)
  • For the crumble topping:
  • 90g (34 cup) plain flour
  • 50g (12 cup) ground almonds
  • 20g (1 heaping tbsp) rolled oats
  • 70g (13 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 12 tsp ground cinnamon plus more to sprinkle over plums
  • 70g (5 tbsp) cold unsalted butter


1. Stir the fresh yeast into the buttermilk in a large bowl, or the bowl of the standing mixer (it will be a real chore to knead it by hand). Sprinkle a spoonful of sugar and leave to foam up and activate, about 30 minutes.

2. Add the remaining sugar, flour, salt and eggs to the bowl and mix with a dough hook attachment for 10 minutes at high speed until the dough gathers into a ball and longer until it bounces off the walls of the bowl.

3. Turn the speed down to medium and add the butter by a tablespoon, waiting for each one to be absorbed. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary.

4. The dough should be smooth, glossy and very sticky. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl in a warm place for 2 hours till it doubles in volume, then chill it in the fridge overnight.

5. To make the crumble, place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and dice the cold butter into it. Rub the butter into the mix with your fingers (or pulse it in a mixer) until it turns into coarse breadcrumbs. Chill overnight.

6. The next day butter a 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inch) cake tin with removable bottom or an ovenproof dish. Take the dough out of the fridge and gently transfer it to the dish (if you failed to oil the bowl, prise the dough gently off the bowl with a spatula). Trying to handle the dough as gently as possible, stretch it over the base of the dish.

7. Halve and stone the plums and arrange them over the brioche, push each half in. Sprinkle the raisins in between the plums, if using. Loosely cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour, until the dough plumps up significantly and puffs up in between the plums.

8. Preheat the oven to 180C (no fan)/350F/gas 4.

9. Press the plum halves back in if they have popped up, sprinkle them with cinnamon and crumble over the topping (straight from fridge). Transfer to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the brioche has risen evenly, has coloured golden brown and the crumble is crisp.

10. Cool the brioche in the tin on a cake rack for 15 minutes, then remove the sides and let it cool down to room temperature. If it is baked in a ceramic dish, leave it in until cooled.

Originally published: Thu, 14 November, 2019

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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