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POST-CHRISTMAS COURONNE

2 January 2014

Love Christmas cuisine and devil-may-care eating attitude as I do, leftover dregs of festive grub always look sad and neglected come the new year. People are, not unreasonably, sick of the sight of mince pies, nut selections and defiantly solid Christmas pudding as the festive season draws to a close.

It's a shame to waste all these lovely festive ingredients, and this couronne is the perfect way to hide them amid soft layers of enriched bread dough. The wreath shape makes for a tastefully festive table centrepiece, which i'd wager will go down a storm in those last few days of Christmas.

My recipe is adapted from Paul Hollywood's notorious apricot couronne, which is perfect spring-time alternative to this little number.

THE INGREDIENTS 
250g strong white bread flour
5g salt
7g instant yeast
50g unsalted butter, softened
120ml milk
2 eggs
100g nuts, coarsely chopped
50g dried apricots/cherries/figs
Zest of 1 orange or 2 clementines 
200g mincemeat or crumbled Christmas pudding
100g icing sugar
25g flaked almonds 

THE RECIPE
Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl, then add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other. Drop the butter into the middle, then warm the milk until it's just warm. Add the milk and 1 egg, then mix together with your fingers. Once the dough has picked up all the flour, tip onto an oiled surface and knead for 10-12 minutes. Place in a clean bowl, cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise in a warm place for around an hour.

Once the dough has doubled in size, tip it onto a clean surface. Without knocking the air out, roll into a rectangle which is roughly 35x25cm. In a small bowl, combine the mincemeat, chopped dried-fruit, nuts and orange zest. Spread this evenly over the dough, leaving a slight margin around the edge.

With the long-side facing you, roll the dough as tightly as you can. Now slice this in half longways, so you have two long sections of layered dough and filling. Wrap these around one another, sealing the two ends into a wreath shape. Leave to prove for a second hour, until the bread has doubled in size. 

Preheat the oven to 200C, and beat the second egg to form an egg wash. Brush this liberally over the bread, then bake the couronne for 25-30 minutes, until golden and baked through. Keep an eye on it, as you may need to cover it with foil to stop the sugar browning too much. 

Once the couronne has cooled a little, drizzle with runny icing and sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

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