Some of you reminded me that I said I’d post the recipe for our yummy Christmas morning treat, so here it is in plenty of time for you to wrap your head around it and prepare it for you and yours. Obviously you could serve it at any time of year, either for a special breakfast like a coffee cake, or I’d even be happy with it as dessert. But it seems to me Christmas morning just begs for flavor and pastry like this.
It is a Paul Hollywood (of the Great British Baking Show) recipe, which we follow English style by measuring things out by weights. If we made it more than once a year, we’d transpose the quantities to more user friendly units, but here I’ll give it to you as he recommends it. It is sublime, and otherwise cannot be improved upon.
For the Dough:
250g strong white bread flour
one 7g packet of fast-acting yeast
50g unsalted butter, softened
105 ml 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 dried apricots, soaked in 100ml orange juice
35g plain flour
65g walnut pieces
finely grated zest on one orange
50g apricot jam
100g icing sugar, sifted
25g flaked almonds
You’ll need one large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
To make the dough, put the flour in a mixing bowl and add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other. Add the soft butter, milk, and eggs and turn the mixture around with your fingers, using them like a paddle. Keep doing this until you’ve picked up al the flour from the sides of the bowl. Use the mixture to clean up the sides of the bowl, picking up all the scraps, and keep going until you have a soft ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10-12 minutes. Work the dough 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 tea towel and leave to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, make the filling. Put the soft butter, sugar,drained apricots, flour raisins, walnuts, and zest into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside until needed.
Turn the risen dough onto the lightly floured work surface. Without punching it down to deflate, roll it out to a rectangle about 25x33cm. If necessary, turn the dough around so you have the long edge closest to you. Spread the apricot filling mixture evenly over the dough, then roll up like a swiss roll– tack down the nearest edge to you so it won’t move, then roll up the dough from the other long edge towards you so you get a really tight roll. Roll it back and forth slightly to “seal” the seam, then cut it lengthwise in half. You can keep one end attached, which will make it easier to shape.
Twist the two strands of the dough together; then twist the two ends together to finish the crown. Carefully transfer the crown to the prepared baking sheet. Put the baking 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.
While the dough is rising, heat your oven to 400ºF. When your crown 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.
Gently heat the apricot jam with a splash of water, then push it through a sieve into a bowl. Quickly brush over the warm crown to glaze. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a thin icing, Drizzle over the crown and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Let cool and serve soon.
A masterpiece! Enjoy!