Mincemeat and marzipan couronne
This French 'crown' of bread is chock-full of Christmas ingredients and makes a great alternative to Christmas cake.
For the couronne
- 250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 5g salt
- 8g instant yeast
- 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 135ml/4½fl oz whole milk
- 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
For the marzipan
- 90g/3¼oz caster sugar
- 140g/5oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 220g/7¾oz ground almonds
- 1 orange, finely grated zest only
- 1 free-range egg, beaten
For the filling and topping
For the couronne, tip the flour into a large mixing bowl, then add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, milk and egg and stir the mixture with your fingers until it comes together as a dough. Continue mixing until the sides of the bowl are clean and the dough is soft.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes, or until the dough has stopped feeling sticky and has a smooth, silky exterior. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with cling film and set aside to prove in a warm room for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour.
For the marzipan, mix the caster sugar, icing sugar and ground almonds together in a large bowl, then stir in the orange zest and beaten egg and mix again until the ingredients are well combined and have come together as a thick paste.
Turn out the paste onto a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, then knead until smooth. Roll the marzipan into a ball, then wrap in cling film and chill until needed.
When the couronne dough has about doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Without knocking it back, roll out the dough into a rectangle 33x25cm/13x10in in size.
Turn the dough rectangle so that the long edge is facing you. Spread an even layer of mincemeat all over the dough.
Turn out the marzipan onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to a rectangle similar in size to the dough. Lay the marzipan over the mincemeat.
Roll the dough tightly like a Swiss roll, then cut the roll almost in half lengthways, all the way through. Twist the two lengths of dough together in a spiral, then join the ends to form a ring.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment, then place the couronne onto it and set aside to prove again for a further 30-60 minutes, or until the dough springs back quickly when lightly prodded.
When the couronne has proved, preheat the oven to 210C/425F/Gas 7.
Bake the proved couronne for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
While the couronne is cooling, heat the apricot jam with a splash of water in a small pan over a medium heat until runny. Pass through a sieve to remove any pieces of fruit, then brush the sieved jam all over the warm couronne to glaze. Set aside to cool completely.
Just before serving, in a bowl mix the icing sugar with enough water to form a thin, runny icing (1-2 tablespoons of water). Drizzle or brush the icing over the couronne, then sprinkle over the pistachio slivers and chopped cherries.
If you want to get your Christmas baking started early, this cake can be made three days in advance.