Chocolate Swirl Bread with Cherries

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Chocolate Swirl Bread with Cherries is a tender yeast bread dotted with cherries that’s braided with swirls of melty chocolate and baked to golden perfection!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Red Star Yeast.

front view of chocolate swirl bread with cherries

Did you grow up eating cinnamon raisin bread? It was a special breakfast treat that my family would enjoy just a few times a year.

This soft, swirly bread is what inspired today’s chocolate cherry swirl bread. It’s buttery, speckled with tart dried cherries, and filled with swirls of gooey chocolate.

This swirl bread didn’t last long at all. I think we gobbled it down within a day or two.

I had some trouble getting the recipe exactly the way I wanted. It took several attempts to develop a bread that was moist, sturdy, tasted like cherries, and had just the right amount of chocolate.

Yeast bread is one of my favorite bread to make. Rosemary olive beer bread, slow cooker orange sweet rolls, and buttery jam biscuits are a few of my very favorites.

overhead view of Chocolate Swirl Bread with Red Star Yeast

How to make chocolate swirl bread with cherries

There are so many different ways to make chocolate swirl bread and I tested quite a few before I went back to my old trusted recipe.

The one for the cinnamon bread stated above. The dough is very forgiving and will yield the perfect texture every single time.

I used Red Star® Platinum Yeast and was pleasantly surprised at how reliable this yeast is. I didn’t activate it beforehand like I usually do with active dry yeast and the dough baked up beautifully.

Chocolate Cherry Swirl Bread Dough in a glass bowl

Start by combining most of the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. I prefer using the stand mixer because it does all the kneading for you!

Pour melted butter and warm milk right into the dry ingredients then let your mixer do all the work.

Once the dough starts to come together, add the remaining flour and continue to let the mixer knead the dough until it’s no longer sticky. At this point, gently knead in the dried cherries.

The dough requires two rises. The first one will happen after it’s fully kneaded and the second one will happen after the dough is filled and shaped.

Chocolate Filling for Chocolate Swirl Bread in a glass bowl

Make sure the dough is placed in a warm environment to rise.

I like to preheat the oven and allow the heat to warm the microwave that sits right above. Then, I cover the dough and place in the microwave where it’s nice and cozy.

It will take about an hour for the dough to rise. Once it has doubled in size, gently punch it down, roll it out, and slather it with chocolate.

chocolate being spread over cherry bread

How to shape chocolate swirl bread

Next, it’s time to shape the bread. The method I used for shaping the bread isn’t like the tradition swirl bread where you simply roll it up and bake it.

I tried that and the chocolate was so heavy inside the bread that it left a giant cavity right in the middle.

To avoid this problem, you’ll need to roll the chocolate-covered dough into a log, cut the log in half lengthwise, adjust each half so they are cut side up, and braid them together.

There’s a video right above the recipe, down below, that shows you the full process of making chocolate swirl bread with cherries.

Unbaked Chocolate Cherry Swirl Bread in a pan

This method for “swirling” the chocolate worked perfectly!

It can be a little messy but I found that letting the chocolate cool down before spreading over the dough helps to keep it from squishing out as you roll, cut, and shape the bread.

Basically, you want the chocolate soft enough to spread but not so warm that it’s oozing everywhere.

Don’t be intimidated by the process here. It sounds more difficult than it really is. Read through the full recipe and watch the video before you begin.

overhead view of Chocolate Cherry Swirl Bread sliced

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front view of chocolate swirl bread with cherries

Chocolate Swirl Bread with Cherries

Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Chocolate Swirl Bread with Cherries is a tender yeast bread dotted with cherries that's braided with swirls of melty chocolate and baked to golden perfection!


For the bread

  • 3 cups (390 g) bread flour, divided
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons Red Star Platinum Yeast, (1 packet)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, warmed to 110-115°F
  • ¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 ⅓ cup (170 g) dried cherries, roughly chopped

For the filling

  • 2 ounces (56 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder


Make the bread

  1. Add 2 and ½ cups of the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Use a wire whisk to whisk until well combined.
  2. Add the melted butter and the warm milk. Beat on low speed until the dough begins to come together.
  3. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the remaining flour. Turn the speed up to medium and continue mixing until a soft dough forms, about 1 minute.
  4. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes.  The dough should be soft and no longer sticky to the touch.
  5. Add the cherries and beat on low speed until they are well mixed in.
  6. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm environment to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

Make the filling

  1. Add the chocolate and butter to a small heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir continuously until fully melted and smooth
  2. Remove from heat then stir in the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder until fully incorporated. Set aside to cool until it's no longer runny but still soft enough to spread.

Shape the bread

  1. Generously grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with butter or nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Gently punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into an 8x13-inch rectangle. Spread the chocolate filling evenly over the surface, leaving a ½ border uncovered.
  3. Starting with the longer side, roll the dough tightly into a. Place the log on its seam. Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half lengthwise. 
  4. With the cut-sides facing up, braid the halves over each other to create a large twist. Pinch the ends together. Carefully transfer the braid into the prepared loaf pan and tuck the ends underneath to fit. 
  5. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and place it in a warm environment to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bread is golden brown on top. Remove from the oven. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


A stand mixer makes the process so much easier but if you don't have one, simply mix the dough in a large bowl with a wooden spoon then knead by hand.

Make ahead tip

  1. The bread will keep for about 2 days wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored and room temperature or for up to 1 week stored in the refrigerator.
  2. The bread will also keep for well up to 3 months stored in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then bring to room temperature before serving.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 189Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 229mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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  1. Megan @ MegUnprocessed says:

    This combo sounds yummy! Love that chocolate in there!

  2. Bruce M Brown says:

    I meant streusel, not ‘stressed’ (autocorrect)

  3. Bruce M Brown says:

    This is basically a babka. I would add a layer of stressed over the chocolate.

    1. The bread is much different than babka but it is shaped the same. Babka is sweeter with more butter and contains eggs. It’s more like a cake risen with yeast. Whereas this swirl bread is just a basic yeast bread swirled with chocolate and dotted with cherries.

  4. This looks amazing! I need to make this ASAP! Your photography is gorgeous!

  5. The chocolate swirl is positively divine!