The first recorded use of the word in French dates from 1404. It is attested in 1611 in Cotgrave’s A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, where it is described as “a rowle, or bunne, of spiced bread” and its origin given as Norman. A similar type of bread, called tsoureki, is also traditionally baked in Greece for the Easter weekend.
In France it developed as “a sort of bread improved since antiquity by generations of bakers, then of pastry-makers … with some butter, some eggs, sugar coming later … it developed from the blessed bread of the church which gradually became of better quality, more and more costly, less and less bread; until becoming savoury brioche”.