Parlez vous francais? Me neither. Although really I should, I went to French immersion school for grades 7 and 8. After two years at Jeanne Sauve Public School my most prominent memories are of the oatmeal cookies they used to sell at recess and the turtle shaped piggy bank I made in tech class. I still talk about those oatmeal cookies and that turtle is hanging around somewhere but the French language? Gone. Which is why when I was looking at this recipe it never dawned on me that couronne means crown. I blame the public school system.
In previous challenges, I have had quite good success with sweet dough. I even boldly told my husband “I’m pretty good at enriched dough”. I was feeling confident which is why I was so confused when this dough didn’t come together as I expected. I guess I’m not the enriched dough master I thought I was. Instead of the sticky, wet impossible to handle dough of the rum babas or jam doughnuts this was more like a regular bread dough, not sticky at all. After my Kitchen Aid beat the dough into submission for a few minutes I did end up with a soft poke-able ball of dough. And really what else does one look for in dough but poke-ability.
I have been known to compromise the authenticity of these technicals in the past. Or as I would put it, improve on flavours and save myself some cash. The filling for my couronne was rich with improvements. I didn’t have an orange or orange juice, I didn’t have muscovado sugar and I pretended I didn’t have raisins because they are gross (except in butter tarts). In the end, I made a filling with brown sugar, apple juice soaked apricots and dried cranberries.
The tricky part of this bake came during shaping. I say tricky because apparently I was supposed to be able to suspend the laws of physics to flatten something without knocking the air out of it? Umm, how? Isn’t the only thing making the dough puffy air? Oh well, I rolled as gently as I could and covered the dough with my filling. You tell me if this doesn’t look more delicious than something with raisins!?
The next step required me to put on my best boy scout brain and twist the bread like a rope. I don’t know about you but I don’t spend a lot of my time rope twisting so this was a bit of a shot in the dark. I called in my husband to confirm the rope like nature of my twists and lopped the whole thing together.
The second rise didn’t produce much puff so I was a bit worried I hadn’t successfully retained the air when I rolled out the dough, or this could be because I didn’t put the bread into one of the magical bake off plastic proofing bags like the recipe told me to. Whatever the reason it was too late to change that so I forged ahead.
I had some trouble with baking the couronne. After about 20 minutes the whole loaf (if I can call it a loaf) was getting dark but it still seemed really squishy. I was expecting the bread to become solid, kind of like an actual loaf, rather than staying soft like a cinnamon bun. In an effort to achieve the solid loaf I definitely overbaked the poor crown. Luckily I saved it before it became a charcoal couronne, but there were some cranberries that lost the battle.
The final touches did wonders for the couronne’s self esteem. A little apricot glaze and some deliberately placed lines of icing and the couronne looked presentable.
An overly crisp base and cranberries with a hint of carbon make this bake more of an apricot hat than a crown. I am no stranger to border line burnt baked goods so I dug in. The whole thing tastes pretty good. I liked all the fruit and nuts and think my cranberry addition was a stroke of genius. Orange zest would have really made a difference to the taste so I will make an effort to include it if I make this again. So even though it might not be fit for royalty, and especially not good enough for Paul or Mary, I think it will happily be gobbled up in my house!