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Buttery Chocolate and Sour Cherry Brioche Buns + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

When I started my love affair with cooking, it was actually on the baking side, both sweet and savory. In addition to iconic cookbooks by Carol Field, Flo Braker, Rose Levy Beranbaum, and Dorie Greenspan, I waited every Wednesday for the Washington Post food section and I baked almost daily. In one of those sections was an article by Lisa Yockelson called “In Pursuit of the Perfect Sticky Bun.” I conquered my fear of baking with active dry yeast with this recipe (they are indeed perfect sticky buns), and ever since I now dive headfirst into any recipes which call for it — like these buttery Chocolate and Sour Cherry Brioche Buns from debut cookbook, OSTRO: The Pleasure That Comes From Slowing Down and Cooking With Simple Ingredients, by food writer and cake creator Julia Busuttil Nishimura. These heavenly buns are perfect for brunch (start the night before) when you want to impress (or just splurge!). Feel free to use the brioche dough as a blank canvas for your dreamiest combinations of fruits and nuts, but we think dark chocolate and sour cherries are almost as good as it gets! You can find Julia’s recipes for a Roasted Peach Tart and Pumpkin Tortelli in our Food and Drinks archives. —Kristina

To win a copy of Julia’s new cookbook, leave an answer in the comment section below. The question is: “What is your favorite brunch food or memory and why?”

About Julia: Julia Busuttil Nishimura is a Melbourne-based Italian teacher and food writer, and the creator of Ostro — an online space where she shares her recipes, images and stories. Julia is a regular contributor to Australian and international publications such as The Design Files, Design*Sponge, Assemble Papers and Yen, teaches sell-out cake workshops and is regularly commissioned to create spectacular cakes. She lives in Melbourne with her husband Nori and son Haruki. Find Julia on Instagram at @JuliaOstro.

{Photography by Armelle Habib}

Ostro cookbook by Julia Busuttil Nishimura


Chocolate and Sour Cherry Brioche Buns


Julia glazing brioche buns


Julia with husband Nori and son Haruki

Chocolate and Sour Cherry Brioche Buns

These buns are decadent – buttery brioche filled with dark chocolate, sour cherries and walnuts. They are rather simple to make, especially if you have an electric mixer. I have made them by hand on some occasions and it wasn’t too difficult, just a bit of a workout! You can omit the cherries if you can’t find them, and feel free to replace the walnuts with almonds, pistachios or even hazelnuts. The overnight proofing helps to make this soft and buttery dough workable. Similarly, don’t try to make these on a hot day, as the dough will be far too soft to handle in the heat. These buns are best eaten on the day of baking, but they can be toasted and eaten the following day.


  • 350 g (2 1/3 cups) plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting (1 cup = 150g)
  • 7 g active dry yeast (1 envelope)
  • 70 g ( 1/3 cup) sugar
  • 100 ml (1/3 cup plus one tablespoon) whole milk, plus 1 tablespoon extra for brushing
  • 4 eggs

  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 150 g (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 50 g (1/2 cup chopped) walnuts
  • 100 g (3.5 ounces) dark chocolate (70% cocoa), finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 40 g (1/3 cup) dried sour cherries, roughly chopped



Place the flour, yeast and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Gently warm the milk in a saucepan over a low heat until tepid, about 30°C (85°F). Turn the mixer on to medium speed and pour the milk into the dry ingredients, along with three of the eggs and the orange zest. Mix for 3–4 minutes until combined into a sticky yet elastic dough. With the motor still running, add
 the butter, a tablespoon at a time, ensuring it is incorporated before adding more. Once all the butter has been added, mix for another 2–3 minutes until the dough is elastic. Transfer to a large bowl that has been lightly greased with butter and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Knock back the dough, cover again and place in the fridge to prove for at least 6 hours or overnight.


Meanwhile, to make the filling, lightly toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over a low–medium heat for 1–2 minutes or until just colored. Allow to cool, then chop them finely and combine with the remaining ingredients. Set aside.


Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Line a baking tray with baking paper.


Tip the dough onto a lightly floured bench and, using your hands or 
a rolling pin, push or roll the dough out to a rectangle about 40 cm
 × 20 cm (16 in x 8 in), flouring the dough as you need. Scatter the filling evenly over the rectangle of dough, then fold the short edges in so they meet in the middle, so it looks like an open book. Then fold the dough in half along where the edges meet (like closing a book). You will now have a long, flat shape. You can cut the buns like this, or roll gently, from the longer edge, into a log shape. Trim the rough ends, then cut the log into eight pieces about 6 cm wide. Arrange on the prepared tray with 4 cm (1.5 in) of space between each bun to allow them to expand. Leave in a warm place for 30 minutes for a final proof. Lightly whisk the remaining egg with the extra tablespoon of milk and brush over the top of the buns. Bake for 18–20 minutes until golden and risen. Allow to cool slightly on the tray before moving to a wire rack to finish cooling. Serve warm, or at room temperature on the day of baking.

OSTRO: The Pleasure That Comes From Slowing Down and Cooking With Simple Ingredients by Julia Busuttil Nishimura is published by Plum.

Suggested For You


  • I had soft scrambled eggs on a biscuit, topped with tons of chives and the lightest little arugula salad, at a coffee shop right before a music festival. I was in a new city and going with people I didn’t know very well yet, but now we’re friends! (The eggs were also just great in and of themselves. I find a soft scramble difficult to do on my gas stove, and I rarely have the ingredients on hand for nice flaky biscuits.)

  • Today I had a traditional brioche with a lovely top-knot in the French style with some butter and homemade peach 🍑 preserves at a little French café in Seattle. This was after getting up at 5 am to stand in line for a ticket to a very special art exhibition on the last day after previously trying and not getting in. The satisfaction of having a ticket in hand, the pleasure of a comfortable seat in a charming environment, and the delicious brioche, coffee ☕️, and fresh squeezed orange 🍊 juice all combined to make a brunch that I will long remember. And I love ❤️ to make brioche at home so I could really appreciate how tender and fragrant this brioche was.

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  • My favourite brunch memory is not of a single meal, but rather of a period in my life when the ritual of Saturday brunch with friend was a ritual. Living in Seattle in the years after I was first married, we gathered for brunch at one of a handful of favourite local restaurants (Lola, The Five Spot, HiLife, Portage Bay) for heavenly (and usually extremely heavy) brunches and copious amounts of amazing coffee. I don’t think I appreciated this luxury at the time; 5 years later, back in Canada with two young children, I treasure the memories of those west coast mornings, and appreciate everything they taught me about the power of simple food made with skill and amazing ingredients, and about joy of being able to linger over a meal with friends.

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  • Learning to make french toast with my Aunt! We were always super close and making french toast together was always our thing. It gave us time to spend together while catching up, since we didn’t see each other as often as we would have liked.

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  • It’s too hard to choose just one, but my favorite brunch foods include most of the things you get at a good dim sum place, like char siu bao, sticky rice, and custard tarts. Dim sum reminds me of the lucky meals I’ve been able to spend with now far-off family or friends. Even when I lived a few blocks from a favorite dim sum restaurant and went often, it still felt like a treat every time. I’ll take western-style brunch offerings for breakfast, lunch, or snack instead of for brunch, please!

  • My favorite brunch food is quiche. When I was a kid I used watch my grandma make pie crusts from scratch. The counter covered in flour, the kitchen warm from the heating oven. She taught me how special it is to bake for your family and that you can do anything with a quiche! Baking slows you down to the moment and quiche is a great place for leftovers! Years later, when I was older, I went to chef school to start a new career. Even after taking all the courses, I still called my grandma for the secret to a delicious flaky crust, and you’ll never guess? She said she had to wait until I was an adult to tell me…vodka! Yum!

  • Mother’s Day Brunch is always an event for our family. We love cooking and breakfast in our house so we go all out. One year it was boozy baked french toast, this year pizza frittata with arugula salad.

  • My friend makes the most fantastic brunch of french toast with fresh berries. He uses English Toasting Bread and toasts each slice ever so slowly. Everyone loves it.

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  • I loved it when my mother made Icelandic Pancakes for brunch. It was really recipe for crepes. My Dad brought the recipe back from Iceland where he was stationed for part of WW2. He had gotten the recipe from a family that had hosted him in their home. We roll them up with butter and strawberry jam. Makes a wonderful meal lany time of the day.

  • My grandma used to go back to her Polish roots on christmas morning – blood sausage and turtle soup and kielbasa were served right along all of the sweet quick breads and baked egg dishes and decorated sugar cookies . As a kid I of course thought it was disgusting but now I cherish the memories!

  • My fave brunch is very Mediterranean! Hard-boiled eggs, or over-easy eggs cooked on soudjoukh (an Armenian spiced sausage), olives, feta or hard cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes, zaahtar and olive oil and pita, and a salad of grilled green peppers and tomatoes with a pomegranate syrup!

  • Anytime I see stuffed french toast I get pretty excited. I love brunch and it could really be anything. Mostly I like going to my favorite restaurants in Portland with friends and ordering the seasonal favorite. Right now it’s pumpkin everything!

  • My fondest brunch memory, going to a well known, fancy restaurant during my honeymoon, and meandering through the various stations, fresh omelets, craved meats, pasta, and of course the lucious desserts. As the foods tantalized my senses, my husband’s a undant love enhanced that forever memorable dining experience.

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