A Cranberry and Apricot Couronne Bread is a magnificent fusion of French tradition and festive indulgence. This extra-sweet creation takes the form of a crown-shaped bread, serving not only as a delightful centrepiece for your holiday table but also as a decadent alternative to the customary Christmas cake or pudding. Whilst technically bread, this yeasted cake is generously filled with marzipan, dried fruits, and an abundance of crunchy pecans, creating a mouthwatering dessert for your Christmas table!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost for you! Thank you!
What Is Couronne?
It seems that nobody knew what Couronne was before the technical challenge was set on the Great British Bake Off, where bakers were asked to make Paul Hollywood’s apricot couronne.
Couronne bread, a term derived from the French word for “crown,” is a quintessential French bread known for its elegant, ring-like shape reminiscent of a regal crown.
Traditional Couronne Bordelaise is a French bread that boasts a golden, crusty exterior that encases a soft and airy crumb within. Its circular design not only makes it visually captivating but also an ideal centrepiece for festive occasions, symbolizing the essence of French culinary craftsmanship. In the modern days, however, couronne often refers to a sweet fruit, marzipan or jam-filled bread.
Christmas Sourdough ebook
Celebrate the holiday season with a unique twist this year with our 24 Christmas Sourdough recipes! Discover the magic of using active sourdough starter, sourdough discard, and leftover baked sourdough bread to create a memorable and flavoursome Christmas feast.
Christmas Treats From Around The World
French really know how to celebrate Christmas with the most delicious baking recipes, like Couronne Des Rois, Galette Des Rois (Puff Pastry With Almond Cream) and, of course, Buche De Noel. But if you are keen to try some delicious bakes from around the world, try:
- Kitchen Scales: we always weigh our ingredients, especially in baking recipes.
- Stand Mixer Fitted with A Dough Hook Attachment: or you can knead it by hand, but be prepared for a slightly sticky initial wet stage.
- Rolling Pin: we highly recommend using a stainless steel rolling pin. It sticks to the dough so much less if at all, so you don’t need to keep dusting it with flour!
- Parchment Paper: try Bacofoil Baking Paper – it’s the best we’ve tried!
- Large baking Sheet.
- strong white flour (bread flour): you may substitute up to 80g with whole wheat flour.
- fast-action dried yeast: approx ½ packet.
- unsalted butter: softened. If you’re using salted butter, skip the salt in this recipe.
- milk: we used whole milk, but reduced-fat milk will also work.
- egg: medium in the UK, large in the US.
For The Filling:
- unsalted butter: softened.
- light brown sugar: a.k.a muscovado sugar.
- dried apricots: roughly chopped.
- plain flour: helps to spread the filling evenly on the dough.
- cranberries: can be replaced with raisins or sultanas.
- pecans: can be replaced with walnuts, if you wish.
- orange: zest only.
- white marzipan.
- icing sugar: also known as powdered sugar or confectioners sugar.
- milk: can be replaced with water.
- extra nuts and fruit to decorate: like pieces of pecan nuts, flaked almonds, glacé cherries, or even colourful sprinkles.
- EXTRA: mix in a drop of orange blossom water to your icing for extra Christmas flavour!
Step 1: Make Enriched Dough
Mix the flour and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer. Add the salt, egg and milk. Run your mixer, fitted with a dough hook attachment on low-medium speed until you have a rough dough.
Little by little start adding the butter, and keep on kneading for approx 10-12 minutes, until the dough is very soft and elastic. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl if the butter sticks to them.
Scoop the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, mix the dough ingredients (except for butter) in a large mixing bowl. Then tip everything onto a lightly floured work surface and bit by bit knead in the butter.
Cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1.5-2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
How To Know Your Dough Has Proofed Enough?
To determine if your enriched dough has proofed enough, gently press your finger into the dough. If an indentation remains without the dough springing back immediately, it’s ready for the next step in your recipe. If the dough springs back, leave it to proof for a little bit longer. This ‘gentle touch test’ helps ensure your dough has reached the perfect level of proofing, resulting in light and airy baked goods.
Step 2: Make The Filling
Make the filling by creaming the softened butter and brown sugar together in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the chopped apricots, flour, cranberries, pecans and orange zest.
Step 3: How To Shape Couronne?
Once doubled, place the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Without knocking it back, roll it out into a 33 x 25 cm rectangle.
Turn the dough so that you have a long edge facing you. Spread the fruit butter mixture evenly over the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the marzipan to a rectangle about 31 x 21 cm, and lay it over the apricot mixture.
Roll it up tightly into a roll (similar to a Swiss roll).
Cut the roll in half lengthways, leaving it just joined at one end. Then twist the 2 dough strips together, and shape it into a circle, pinching the two ends together. Carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheet
Cover the couronne with a lightly oiled cling film or clean plastic bag, and leave it in a warm spot to proof for the second time for 45-60 minutes, until almost doubled in size.
Step 4: Bake Couronne Bread
Preheat the oven to 190 C Fan. Bake the Couronne for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden brown.
Place the baked bread on a wire rack. Mix the icing sugar with milk to make a thin icing. Drizzle it all over the loaf and decorate it with extra pecans and dried fruit.
Leave the Couronne to cool down completely before enjoying it.
Couronne Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Do not rush the first rise of the dough. Enriched dough may take a little longer to proof than your ordinary bread dough. It is ready when it’s doubled in volume, or when gently pushed down, it doesn’t spring back immediately.
- When shaping Couronne, make sure to twist the two dough lengths so that the cut side stays upwards. This will ensure a very pretty bread and less marzipan filling oozing out onto the baking tray.
- Skip the icing, and brush the surface of the tread with warmed-up apricot jam, if you wish.
- Make sure to cool the Apricot Couronne to room temperature before slicing. The warm loaf will taste incredibly sweet and be messy to eat!
- Store couronne in an airtight container in a cool dark cupboard – it is just as delicious the following day!
More Christmas Baking?
Cranberry & Apricot Couronne (French Christmas Bread)
For The Dough:
- 250 g strong white flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 g fast-action dried yeast approx ½ packet
- 50 g unsalted butter softened
- 130 ml milk
- 1 egg medium
For The Filling:
- 90 g butter softened
- 40 g light brown sugar
- 100 g dried apricots roughly chopped
- 35 g flour
- 50 g cranberries roughly chopped
- 70 g pecans roughly chopped
- 1 orange zest only
- 200 g white marzipan
- 100 g icing sugar
- 1.5 tablespoon milk
- extra nuts and fruit to decorate
- Mix the flour and yeast in a bowl of your stand mixer. Add the salt, egg and milk. Run your mixer, fitted with a dough hook attachment on low-medium speed until you have a rough dough.
- Little by little start adding the butter, and keep on kneading for approx 10 minutes, until the dough is very soft and elastic.
- Scoop the dough into a lightly greased large bowl. Cover with cling film and leave it to proof in a warm spot for 1.5-2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the filling by creaming the softened butter and brown sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the chopped apricots, flour, cranberries, pecans and orange zest.
- Once doubled, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Without knocking it back, roll it out into a 33 x 25 cm rectangle.
- Turn the dough so that you have a long edge facing you. Spread the filling mixture evenly over the dough.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the marzipan to a rectangle about 31 x 21 cm, and lay it over the apricot mixture. Roll up the dough tightly like a Swiss roll. cut it almost in half lengthways, leaving it just joined at one end – like a pair of legs. Twist the 2 dough lengths together, then join the ends to form a circular ‘crown’. Transfer to the baking tray.
- Cut the roll in half lengthways, leaving it just joined at one end. Then twist the 2 dough strips together, and shape it into a circle, pinching the two ends together. Carefully transfer to the prepared baking tray.
- Cover the couronne with a lightly oiled cling film, and leave it in a warm spot to proof again for 45-60 minutes, until almost doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 190° C Fan. Bake the couronne for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden. Place the baked bread on a wire rack.
- Place the baked bread on a wire rack. Mix the icing sugar with milk to make a thin icing. Drizzle it all over the loaf and decorate with extra pecans and dried fruit.
- Leave the couronne to cool down completely before enjoying it.