Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I love a bit of afternoon tea. Well, who doesn’t? The luxury of sitting down in the afternoon with a cup of tea and a delicious sweet treat is something everyone should make time for every now and then.
Whilst I’m usually the first one to reach for any kind of chocolately cake/biscuit/pastry, I also take great delight in enriched, fruity breads (see my cranberry and orange breakfast buns and stollen for 2 other great recipes). So when I spotted today’s recipe being made on last year’s Great British Bake-Off I was immediately sold.
Enriched dough filled with raisins, walnuts, plump dried apricots and sugary orange zest; the resulting apricot couronne just called out to be paired with a cup of tea and some feet up time.
The courrone did, however, form part of the GBBO technical challenge, which did made me think twice about embarking on this particular culinary adventure. But luckily, when you have the full recipe and instructions to hand it’s actually not hard to make at all. The dough couldn’t be easier, the filling a sinch to pull together and the twisting…well, the twisting. I grant you it’s not the easiest process, but as long as you don’t hesitate and don’t worry too much about how it looks, you’ll be fine.
I have no doubt that my finished article would make Mr Hollywood shudder with horror (especially the fact I forgot to apply the glaze and icing sugar…oops!), but it still tasted incredible and considering it was my first forray into the world of twisting 2 strands of filled dough together, I don’t think it was a bad effort. I’ll leave you to be the judge of that though…
Either way, this couronne is a perfect weekend tea time treat so please have a go – I promise you won’t regret it!
Recipe by Paul Hollywood
For the dough:
250g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
7g instant yeast
50g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the filling:
90g unsalted butter, softened
70g light muscovado sugar
120g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped and soaked in orange juice
35g plain flour
65g chopped walnuts
1 orange, zest only
50g apricot jam
200g icing sugar
25g flaked almonds
1. Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side and yeast to the other. Add the butter, milk and egg, and, using you hands, mix to combine. Continue to mix until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. Use the dough to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until you have a soft dough.
2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead. It will take about 10-12 minutes to work the dough until it has a soft, smooth texture.
3. Once the dough feels smooth and silky, put into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
4. While the dough is rising, make the filling. Beat the butter and muscovado sugar together until smooth. Drain the apricots and add to the butter mixture along with the flour, raisins, walnuts and orange zest. Mix to combine.
5. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
6. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Taking care not to knock all the air out of it, roll the dough into a rectangle, approximately 33×25 cm/13×10 in. Turn the dough around if necessary so you have the long edge facing you. Spread the apricot mixture evenly over the surface and then roll the dough up tightly like a swiss roll. Roll it a couple of times to seal. Cut the roll in half lengthways, leaving one end joined.
7. Twist the 2 dough lengths together to form a rope, then join the ends of the dough together to form a “crown”. Transfer carefully to the baking tray.
8. Put the tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for 30-45 minutes.or until the dough springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
9. Bake the couronne for 25-35 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
10. Gently heat the apricot jam with a splash of water then sieve and brush all over the warm loaf to glaze. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a thin icing the drizzle over the loaf and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Leave to cool before serving. Best eaten on the day you make it – it doesn’t keep well.