If you’ve never had a couronne, you’re in for a treat — and just in time for the holidays! This decadent sweet bread is a traditional French Christmas loaf stuffed with fruits and nuts that is then split open, twisted and shaped into a crown. It is typically topped with a sweet, fruit glaze and sprinkle with more nuts.
But, if you’re not in Lyon, France, or anywhere in Western Europe for that matter, you may have a tough time finding it. So if you want to give this rich, holiday bread a try or to serve it during Christmas time, you’ll likely have to do it yourself.
It’s not the quickest thing to make, nor the simplest, but it’s definitely worth the effort! The recipe below is a slight modification of Paul Hollywood’s couronne recipe. I’ve served this at a BBQ of about 30 people and, whilst it disappears quickly, everyone gets to have a slice.
APRICOT AND ALMOND COURONNE (MAKES 1 LOAF)
- 250g bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 5g salt
- 7g instant yeast
- 50g / 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 135ml warm whole milk
- 1 large egg
For the filling
- 120g dried apricots, small dice
- 150ml orange juice
- 90g unsalted butter, softened
- 70g light brown sugar
- 35g all purpose flour
- 60g raisings
- 65g almond slivers
- Zest of 1 orange
For the glaze and topping
- 50g fig jam
- 100g icing sugar
- Handful of slivered almonds
- Soak the chopped apricots in juice for an hour, up to overnight in fridge.
- After soaking, add bread flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, milk and the egg and combine by hand until the mixture comes together into a soft dough.
- Place dough on a generously floured surface and knead for about 5 – 8 minutes or until the dough starts to form a soft smooth skin.
- When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled bowl. You also can prod the dough with your finger, and if it bounces back fairly quickly, it is ready. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for at least 1 hour (up to 3 hours). It should double in size.
- While the dough is rising, drain the apricots and set aside.
- Cream the butter and light brown sugar together with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the apricots, all purpose flour, raisins, 65g of almond slivers and orange zest.
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
- Place the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Without knocking it back, roll out the dough into a rectangle, about 33 x 25cm. You have a long edge facing you.
- Spread the apricot mixture evenly over the dough. To help hold the dough in place whilst spreading the filling, lightly press down the edges of the dough closest to you to create some hold.
10. Once the filling is spread throughout, roll up the dough tightly and slightly seal the ends. Cut in half lengthways then twist the two dough lengths together. Join the ends to form a circular ‘crown’.
11. Transfer to the baking tray then cover with a large plastic bag. Leave to rise again for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
12. Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Bake couronne for 25 minutes. Whilst it’s baking, make the glaze. Thin the fig jam with enough water so that you can spread it with a pastry brush or basting brush. Mix icing sugar with enough water until you get a thin icing.
13. Place baked couronne on a cooling rack and brush with the glaze whilst it’s still warm. Once it has cooled a bit, drizzle with the icing and sprinkle with almonds.