Apricot Couronne

Apricot Couronne


So this week was sweet dough week on the Great British Bake off, with signature tea-loaves, a twisted apricot couronne, and European buns all being tackled by the contestants. I especially liked the look of Christine’s Skolebrød buns, with custard and jam, and Frances’ chai spiced ‘bottom’ loaf looked so cute!

Howard’s peach shaped buns looked beautiful, and so clever, although it was a shame for him that they didn’t actually taste of peach. However, although Ruby got star baker, I did think that her vanilla and chocolate Kanelbuller looked like small molehills…!

I hadn’t ever really baked a lot of bread by hand, my limit normally being using the bread-maker for homemade pizza and naan bread! So I decided it was time for me to challenge myself, and try the apricot couronne the bakers were asked to make for the technical challenge. I actually found kneading a surprisingly relaxing process, and it was so satisfying to see my dough rise! The flavours of this twisted bread are lovely; apricot and walnut, with orange zest running through the filling – I would recommend giving it a try, even if bread scares you!


On another note, I am off to university on Saturday, which is both exciting and scary at the same time! Packing is not going so well, although I have managed to pack a cupcake tin and a sandwich tin, as well as some mini loaf tins and some cookie cutters! I am fairly worried about the chances of me being able to bake one of next week’s GBBO recipes with limited resources and space in my student kitchen though, as the theme is pastry, but we shall see!


Apricot Couronne ( Paul Hollywood’s recipe!)

You will need: 1 large baking sheet, lined with baking paper

For the dough:

250g strong white bread flour

5g salt

1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast

50g unsalted butter, softened

105ml 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 ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped and soaked in 100ml orange juice

35g plain flour

60g raisins

65g walnut pieces

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

To finish:

50g apricot jam

100g icing sugar, sifted

25g flaked almonds

1. To make the dough, tip the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt to the bowl on one side and the yeast to the other. Add the soft butter, milk and egg and turn the mixture round with your fingers, using them like a paddle. Keep doing this, mixing until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl, picking up all the scraps, and keep going until you have a ball of soft dough.

2. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured worktop and knead for 10-12 minutes: work 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 dry tea towel and leave to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.

3. While the dough is rising, make the filing. Put the soft butter, sugar, drained apricots, flour, raisins, walnuts and zest into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside until needed.

4. Turn the risen dough on to the lightly floured worktop. Without punching it down to deflate, roll it out to a rectangle about 25 x 33cm. If necessary turn the dough around so you have a long edge closest to you. Spread the apricot filling mixture evenly over the dough, then roll up like a swiss roll – tack down the edge nearest to you, so it won’t move, then roll up the dough from the other long edge towards you so get a really tight roll. Roll it back and forth lightly to seal the ‘seam’, then cut it lengthways in half. (You can keep one end attached, which will make it easier to shape).

5. Twist the two strands of dough together, then twist the 2 ends together to finish the ‘crown’. Carefully transfer the crown to the prepared baking sheet. Put the 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.

6. While the dough is rising heat your oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. When the couronne 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.

7.   Gently heat the apricot jam with a splash of water, then push it through a sieve into a bowl. Quickly brush over the warm loaf to glaze. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a thin icing. Drizzle over the loaf and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Leave to cool.



This post is also linked up with the lovely great bloggers bake off –http://www.thecrazykitchen.co.uk/p/the-great-bloggers-bake-off.html

This is organised by  http://www.thecrazykitchen.co.uk/p/the-great-bloggers-bake-off.html  and http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/category/gbbo 🙂

Spiced plum crumble tray bake

Spiced plum crumble tray bake


This week was tray-bake and biscuit week on the Bake off, with signature traybakes, tuiles and showstopper biscuit towers all being attempted. I particularly liked the look of Frances’ amazing jenga tower of banana millionaire’s shortbread. Glenn’s tiffin also looked really yummy, although Paul was worried about the quantity of chocolate which went into it…

I really liked the idea of Frances’ ‘haberdashery tower’, but unfortunately the pull of gravity was too great for her biscuit buttons to withstand! In the end, I thought that Beca’s cake stand looked the best, although as a green tea fan myself, I was also interested in Howard’s ‘Japanese pagoda’.

However, this week posed a problem when I was deciding what to bake. I decided not to make a biscuit tower, having seen the showstoppers made by the contestants, as they used A LOT of biscuits! Tuiles didn’t really appeal to me either, as there isn’t much room for experimentation – so it had to be the good old tray bake.

This week we were given some plums and jam jars by some friends, and the plum jam which I made was the perfect ingredient to use in this tray-bake. Plums are such a lovely autumn fruit, which are in abundance at the moment. This jam recipe makes more than you will need for this bake, but a jar of home-made jam makes a perfect present (or of course, you can just keep them yourself…!)


Spiced plum crumble tray bake

For the jam:

500g plums, stoned and roughly chopped

500g jam sugar

Juice of ½ a lemon

For the sponge:

200g butter

200g caster sugar

4 eggs

200g self-raising flour

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp mixed spice

150g plum jam

8 ripe Victoria plums, halved

For the crumble topping:

50g butter

70g plain flour

40g soft brown sugar

20 x 30cm tray bake tin, greased and lined with baking paper

2 sterilised jam jars (jars which have been through the dishwasher and dried in a low oven)

  1. Put a couple of small ceramic saucers in the freezer to get cold.
  2. Put the plums, sugar and lemon juice in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, and cook over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Heat for another 3 minutes until the plums look soft and mushy.
  4. Bring the jam to the boil, and cook on a high heat for about 8-10 minutes, until the plums look syrupy, and it is boiling stickily.
  5. Test a small spoonful of jam on one of the frozen saucers; the jam is ready if it wrinkles up when you push it with your finger.
  6. If it isn’t ready yet, return to the heat and boil for another 3 minutes, then check again.
  7. When your jam is ready, carefully ladle into the sterilised jars and cool. Ladle the remaining jam into a small bowl – you will use this for the bake!
  1. For the sponge, heat your oven to 180°C, then put the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and cream until it is pale and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, one by one, stirring well in between. Then add the flour and spices and fold in.
  3. Spoon into your tray and smooth the surface.
  4. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the sponge is risen, but still pale.
  5.  Take it out of the oven and spoon over the reserved jam, covering as much of the cake as you can. Then arrange the plum halves on top, in 4 rows of 4 – to create 16 slices.
  6.  Put back in the oven for 5 minutes, while you make the crumble topping.
  7. For the crumble, put the butter, sugar and flour into a bowl and rub between your fingers until you get a fine, breadcrumb-like consistency, with some lumps.
  8.  After 5 minutes, take the bake out, sprinkle over the crumble, and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until the crumble is golden brown.




This post is also linked up with the lovely great bloggers bake off – http://www.thecrazykitchen.co.uk/p/the-great-bloggers-bake-off.html

This is organised by  http://www.thecrazykitchen.co.uk/p/the-great-bloggers-bake-off.html  and http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/category/gbbo 🙂

Double crusted apple and blackberry pie

Double crusted apple and blackberry pie



So it was pie week on the Great British Bake Off this week, which was good timing in terms of the weather turning colder, although I suspect the poor contestants had to bake their pies in the heat of the summer! I really liked the look of Frances’ ‘pie in the sky’ this week, although the judges weren’t too impressed. I also loved Kimberley’s filo pie – it looked beautiful! I was sorry to see Ali go though, and I think he should have stayed just for amusement purposes – like putting his Clingfilm in the food processor…

This week, I decided to make the fruit pie from the Signature bake, as just about the only things we manage to grow in our garden (apart from figs), are apples and blackberries, and home-grown fruit really does give a bake that extra edge! They are a classic combination, and go really well with the crisp cinnamon pastry.

Autumn is my favourite season, for a few different reasons:

  1. It is usually chilly enough to wear lots of cosy woolly jumpers and boots, and maybe even to break out the arm warmers!
  2.  The colours are just so pretty; oranges, reds, browns and golds, which makes walking to school (or work) not quite so much of a chore.
  3. And finally, because of all the autumnal baking you can do! Pumpkin season is coming up, which is exciting, and pasta bakes, soups and crumbles are high up on the menu.

So this is a real autumnal, family pie; best served on a crisp, slightly chilly autumn afternoon, in a warm cosy kitchen, and preferably following a nice long walk through the conkers and orange brown leaves.



Double crusted apple and blackberry pie

For the pastry:

250g plain flour

50g icing sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

125g cold butter

1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk


For the filling:

3 eating apples, chopped into large chunks

2 Bramley apples, chopped into large chunks

150g blackberries

100g caster sugar


1 egg, seperated

25g semolina

50g caster sugar

Baking beans

18cm loose bottomed cake tin

  1. Put the flour, icing sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt into a food processor, then add the butter and whizz until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg and milk mixture and pulse a few times until the dough comes together.
  3. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, and form into a round, but don’t knead it!
  4. Leave in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
  5. Meanwhile make the filling. Put the apples and sugar in a saucepan with a splash of water, and heat on a medium temperature for 5 minutes, or until the apples are slightly softened.
  6. Stir in the blackberries and leave to cool.
  7. When the pastry has chilled, cut off 1/3 of it for the top, then roll out the remaining 2/3rds until it is roughly 1cm thick.
  8. Use this to line your tin, then trim around the edge to remove any excess, and prick well all over with a fork. Fill with baking beans, then rest in the fridge for another 20 minutes.
  9. Pre-heat your oven to 180°, and cook the pie base for 10 minutes, until the pastry is a pale golden colour.
  10. Remove the baking beans, then paint the base with most of the egg yolk, using a pastry brush, and then sprinkle with the semolina. Add the apple and blackberry filling, and even it out with a spoon.
  11. Roll out the remaining 1/3 of pastry to a 1cm thickness, then cut out a circle slightly bigger than your cake tin.
  12. Paint the rim of the pie with the remaining egg yolk, then place the pastry lid on top and press down the edge.
  13. Make several holes in the top of your pie with a sharp knife, then brush all over with the egg white and sprinkle with the sugar.
  14.  Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, checking that the pastry doesn’t brown too much.


Lemon, almond and raspberry petit fours

Lemon, almond and raspberry petit fours


So the Great British Bake Off came back on to our screens a couple of weeks ago! This makes me very happy; the Bake off has to be my favourite program, and I tend to get very attached to the contestants. I love all the ‘drama’ that comes with it, it is so very British, as was demonstrated by the custard theft of this week’s episode!

This year my favourites have got to be Frances and Beca; Frances’ squirrel cake in week one was amazing, and I love all her creative ideas, especially the sugar-plum fairy petit fours. Beca’s petit fours also looked really yummy, and she is always so enthusiastic about her baking! I was inspired by her seriously cute baby macarons to make some for my own petit fours.


This week was dessert week, and having been inspired by the Bakers anonymous website (over at http://bakersanonymous.com/), I decided to try out a recipe from the show. So here is my recipe for one batch of cake-based petit fours, my biscuit ones will be in another post coming soon. They are quite time consuming to make, and I don’t know how the bakers managed to do it all in the time they were given. But they were fun to make and turned out very cute!


Lemon, almond and raspberry petit fours

For the lemon cake:

100g softened butter

100g caster sugar

Zest ½ lemon (keep the other half for the lemon curd)

2 eggs

75g self-raising flour

25g ground almonds

½ tsp baking powder

20 x 20cm square cake tin, lined with beking paper


For the lemon curd:

60ml lemon juice

60g caster sugar

Zest ½ lemon

1 egg

1 egg yolk

60g butter, chopped into small pieces


For the mini macarons:

1 egg white

25g caster sugar

43g ground almonds

56g icing sugar

Red gel food colouring

Baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper


For the raspberry buttercream:

20g softened butter

75g icing sugar

4 raspberries


For the lemon icing:

200g icing sugar

Lemon juice

  1. First make the macarons. Put the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and whizz until they are really fine, then sieve into a mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk the egg white in a bowl until they form peaks, but aren’t over mixed. Add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking in between every addition. Once you have added half the caster sugar, add a few drops of gel food colouring, until it is slightly darker than the colour you want the end result to be.
  3.  Give the mixture a final whisk once you have added all the sugar, and then gently scrape it on top of the ground almonds.
  4. Gently, with a spatula or large metal spoon, fold the egg whites and almond mix together in a figure of 8 formation. Stop when your mixture is the same consistency as cake batter, and drops off your spoon, but is still thick.
  5. Fill a piping bag with this mixture and pipe lots of small circles onto your baking paper, about 3cm diameter.
  6. Then drop your tray onto the work surface from a height of about a foot. Do this a total of 3 times, then leave the macarons for an hour in a cool dry place, to gain a shiny shell-like coating.
  1. Now make the cake. Heat the oven to 180°C, then put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with an electric whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and cook for about 25 minutes, until the cake is golden and springy, then remove from the tin and cool.
  3. For the curd, bring a medium saucepan half filled with water to a gentle simmer, then put the egg, egg yolk, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a bowl over the water and whisk well.
  4.  Keep the curd over the hot water, stirring continuously, until it thickens and coats your wooden spoon. Then remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
  5. Make the raspberry buttercream by putting all the ingredients into a food processor and whizzing until you get a fluffy pink icing.
  6. After the macarons have had half an hour to rest, preheat your oven to 160°C/Gas mark 3.
  7.  After the hour of resting, put the macaron shells in the oven and bake for 2 minutes, then open and shut the oven door rapidly. Do this again twice, so they have 6 minutes in the oven in total.
  8.  Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the macarons to cool completely before VERY gently removing them from the baking paper.

To assemble:

  1. Cut the edges off your lemon sponge, and then cut into 20 pieces. Sandwich with some lemon curd and leave to set for a little while.
  2.  Fill your macarons with the raspberry buttercream and leave to set too.
  3.  Make your lemon icing by adding just enough lemon juice to the icing sugar to create a thick but spoonable icing.
  4. Gently spoon some icing over each petit four, and top with a mini raspberry macaron.