baked goods · Recipe Reviews

GBBO – Paul’s Apricot Couronne

New year, new blog post, new video – perhaps a little later than I intended it to be, but January was kind of busy. This time, I’m making a sweet bread, one of Paul’s technical challenges again. It’s the apricot couronne!

If you’ve seen the Great British Baking Show Masterclass on Netflix, you might have seen Paul make this exact recipe. I definitely watched him make it and thought, “I should give this a try.”

Now, of course it turned out a bit differently, since I’m not a master bread baker. In fact, I have a hard time making bread, generally speaking, and it never quite turns out the way I want it to (see my baguette review). But I’m determined to try again until I get it right someday.

So, if you take a glance at the written recipe, linked above, and you’ve watched the Masterclass episode, you may notice Paul includes a few more details in his explanation of the recipe than are provided in the written recipe. Most importantly, he demonstrates how to roll out, fill, and shape the couronne.

I’m sure we’re getting more details in our version of the written recipe than the contestants on the show got in their technical challenge, but seeing Paul roll and shape the couronne onscreen really helped. I don’t think I would’ve known what I was doing at all without that visual aid.

Mixing the dough was a straightforward process. The recipe says to mix by hand, but Paul says you can use a mixer if you want. I definitely wanted to, so I used my mixer, just until the dough formed. I kneaded by hand for 11 minutes, as directed in the recipe.

Now, to be honest, 11 minutes seemed a little long, because by the 5 minute mark, the dough already felt ready, but I kept going the full time suggested by the recipe. Then, the dough needed to rest, presumably to rise.

And here’s where things started to go wrong for me. Maybe I should have stopped kneading when the dough no longer felt sticky, because after letting it rise for an hour, as directed by the recipe, the dough had barely risen at all.

I rolled it out into a rectangle and tacked down the near edge, as shown in the Masterclass video. Luckily, Paul’s instructions were super easy to follow, and I was able to fill and shape the roll pretty much exactly how Paul did in the Masterclass.

That was the easy part.

I preheated the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and set the dough on top of the stove to prove. I figured since the dough hadn’t risen the first time, perhaps the heat from the oven would help it rise and prove better this time around.

Nope.

I left it to prove for over 45 minutes and it never achieved the spring back it was supposed to. In the recipe and during the Masterclass, Paul says properly proved dough should spring back easily when pressed with a fingertip and mine never did this. I’m not sure why.

At any rate, I didn’t think it would rise any more after 45 minutes, so I put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

According to the recipe and the Masterclass, the couronne should be golden brown when done. And it was, but it hadn’t risen in the oven much. I glazed and iced it according to the recipe instructions. No issues there.

So, how did it taste?

Buttery. The crumb was a bit dense, as expected since it didn’t rise, but other than that, it tasted fine. Good, even. The crust was nice, even if the bread inside was not as good as I’d hoped.

As I say, I’m not sure why the dough didn’t rise much. Maybe I kneaded it too much, or maybe I should’ve covered it differently while it was rising. I did notice the dough developed a bit of a leathery skin on top during both the initial rising and the proving, so maybe that had something to do with it.

If you remember what happened on the show when the contestants tried this technical challenge, none of them crashed and burned on this recipe. It was one of the better challenges that season, since everyone did relatively well.

With this in mind, I recommend trying this recipe. Even if you’re like me, and not a bread baker, you probably won’t screw it up too much, and either way, it’ll still taste good.

The ratings:

Prep time: 2 out of 5. This is bread, so clear your schedule.

Taste: 4 out of 5. Pretty good, if a little on the buttery side.

Ease of construction: 2 out of 5. Watch the Masterclass video. The recipe instructions for shaping the dough aren’t great.

Conclusion: It’s good, even if it doesn’t turn out quite right.

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