I hate dried apricots, the horrible little wrinkly bags of evil. Or at least I thought I did. So it has come as a bit of a surprise to find myself adding apricots to all sorts of things recently, from cakes to flapjacks. And even more surprisingly, I’ve loved the results.
So here’s my apology to apricots, for the hard time I’ve given them. I’ve made Paul Hollywood’s apricot couronne, as featured on this week’s episode of The Great British Bake Off.
A couronne is a yeasted bread, which after an initial prove is rolled out flat, given a layer of filling, and then rolled up tightly like a swiss roll. This is then sliced lengthways, producing two long strands of dough, each with an exposed side of filling. The two strands are twisted together before baking.
I still think apricots are evil, but concede that in certain circumstances they do taste delicious…
Makes 1 large crown loaf
You will need: 1 large baking sheet, lined with baking paper
For the dough:
250g strong white bread flour
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
50g unsalted butter, softened
105ml full-fat milk, at room temperature
1 medium egg, at room temperature
For the filling:
90g unsalted butter, softened
70g light brown muscovado sugar
120g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped and soaked in 100ml orange juice
35g plain flour
65g walnut pieces
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
50g apricot jam
100g icing sugar, sifted
25g flaked almonds
1. To make the dough, tip the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt to the bowl on one side and the yeast to the other. Add the soft butter, milk and egg and turn the mixture round with your fingers, using them like a paddle. Keep doing this, mixing until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl, picking up all the scraps, and keep going until you have a ball of soft dough.
2. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured worktop and knead for 10-12 minutes: work through the initial ‘wet’ stage until the dough starts to develop a soft, smooth skin. When the dough feels smooth and silky put it into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover the bowl with a dry tea towel and leave to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.
3. While the dough is rising, make the filing. Put the soft butter, sugar, drained apricots, flour, raisins, walnuts and zest into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside until needed.
4. Turn the risen dough on to the lightly floured worktop. Without punching it down to deflate, roll it out to a rectangle about 25 x 33cm. If necessary turn the dough around so you have a long edge closest to you. Spread the apricot filling mixture evenly over the dough, then roll up like a swiss roll – tack down the edge nearest to you, so it won’t move, then roll up the dough from the other long edge towards you so get a really tight roll. Roll it back and forth lightly to seal the ‘seam’, then cut it lengthways in half. (You can keep one end attached, which will make it easier to shape).
5. Twist the two strands of dough together, then twist the 2 ends together to finish the ‘crown’. Carefully transfer the crown to the prepared baking sheet. Put the sheet inside a large plastic bag and leave to prove for 30-45 minutes until the dough springs back quickly when you prod it lightly with a fingertip.
6. While the dough is rising heat your oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. When the couronne is ready for baking, uncover the baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes until risen and golden. Transfer to a wire rack.
7. Gently heat the apricot jam with a splash of water, then push it through a sieve into a bowl. Quickly brush over the warm loaf to glaze. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a thin icing. Drizzle over the loaf and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Leave to cool.