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How to Bake a Couronne

Grace your dining table with a sensational centrepiece: the French-deriving Couronne (or ‘Crown’, in English). This twisted Christmas loaf is chock-full of fruit, nuts and marzipan, giving your taste buds a hit of yuletide-evoking flavours to warm you up in the bitter cold of winter. The Couronne is circular in shape with an empty centre; why not make this circle of happiness to share the joy with your family?

Bread Ingredients:

  • 135ml of Warm Full Fat Milk
  • 50g of Unsalted Softened Butter (plus extra for greasing)
  • 250g of Strong White Bread Flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 1 Lightly Beaten Medium Egg
  • 8g of Instant Yeast
  • 5g of Salt

Filling Ingredients:

  • 90g of Unsalted Softened Butter
  • 70g of Light Muscovado Sugar
  • 200g of Marzipan
  • 150ml of Orange Juice
  • Finely Grated Zest of 1 Orange
  • 120g of Chopped Dried Apricots
  • 65g of Chopped Walnuts
  • 60g of Raisins
  • 35g of Plain Flour

Decorating Ingredients:

  • 50g of Flaked Almonds
  • 50g of Apricot Jam
  • 100g of Icing Sugar

Equipment:

  • Large Mixing Bowls
  • Tea Towel
  • Grater
  • Wooden Spoon or Hand Mixer
  • Baking Tray
  • Baking Parchment
  • Rolling Pin
  • Palette Knife
  • Proving Bag
  • Cooling Rack

METHOD: Fruit-Filled Apricot Couronne

  1. Start your Couronne the night before. Prepare the filling by soaking the apricots in orange juice and setting aside to marinate.
  2. The next day: Put the flour in a large mixing bowl, and then tip the salt in at one side of the bowl and the yeast at the opposite side. Add the softened butter, milk and egg, and then mix the ingredients with your fingers, turning until all the flour is incorporated. Keep mixing until you’re left with a soft dough.
  3. Prepare your work surface with a dusting of flour and turn the dough out onto it. Knead for about 6 minutes; you’ll be working with wet dough before it turns to form a soft skin.
  4. When your dough feels silky and smooth, place it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave it to prove in a warm place (e.g. an airing cupboard) for at least an hour – until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. To make the filling, drain the apricots you’d left soaking. Cream together the butter and muscovado sugar until light in colour and fluffy in texture. Next, mix in the apricots, flour, raisins, walnuts and orange zest.
  6. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and then retrieve your dough. Carefully turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, without knocking it back. Roll the dough out to a 33cm x 25cm rectangle; you’ll want a long edge facing you.
  7. Spread the apricot mixture all over the dough, then roll out the marzipan thinly on a floured surface and lay it over the apricot. Tightly roll up the dough like you would with a Swiss roll. Roll it slightly to seal, and then cut it almost in half (lengthways) until you have two long pieces of dough. Leave the other side joined. Twist the two dough lengths together and join the ends to form a circular ‘crown’. Transfer this to the prepared baking tray.
  8. Move your tray into a plastic bag and place it back into your airing cupboard (or similar) to prove again. Leave for about an hour. Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan or gas mark 6).
  9. Remove the tray from its proving place and put it in the oven to bake for 25 minutes, until it’s risen and golden in colour. Remove your Couronne from the oven and place it onto a wire cooling rack.
  10. To make the glaze, heat apricot jam with a splash of water, sieve it, and then brush it all over the warm Couronne. Make a thin icing by mixing icing sugar with a splash of water until it has drizzle consistency. Drizzle over the loaf, and then add a sprinkling of flaked almonds.