While the galette des rois is traditionally enjoyed in the Northern part of France, the Southern part of the country tends to opt for the couronne des rois – a delightful brioche style cake. Much like its golden counterpart, a hidden trinket (or bean) is baked inside the cake, and the lucky finder will be given a royal title for the day.
Couronne des rois
FOR THE STARTER
- 20 g fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast
- 5 tbsp tepid milk plus extra for brushing
- 50 g plain flour
FOR THE COURONNE
- zest of one orange
- 60 g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp orange blossom water
- 250 g plain flour plus extra for dusting
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 80 g butter softened
- 40 g chopped candied peel
- 1 porcelain fève charm, or whole almond
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- 8 glacé cherries optional
- 8 candied fruit pieces optional
- 2-3 tbsp pearl sugar
FOR THE STARTER:
- Crumble (or add) the yeast into a bowl containing the tepid milk.
- Mix in the flour, then cover with clingfilm.
- Leave in a warm place for one hour or so, until the dough has risen a little and bubbles have formed: your starter is ready.
FOR THE COURONNE:
- Add the orange zest to a large mixing bowl with the sugar and orange blossom water. Mix, then sift over the flour.
- Add the beaten eggs, softened butter and prepared starter. Mix with a spoon as much as possible, then take over with your hands. Knead for a few minutes. The dough will be pretty sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a clean surface sprinkled with flour and continue to knead for 15 minutes. if you find the dough is still very sticky after five minutes, add a little extra flour.
- Once you have finished kneading, shape the dough into a ball and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with clingfilm and place it in a draught-free, warm spot. Leave it to rise until it has doubled in size. This will take two to three hours in a toasty place.
- After a few hours, knock back the risen dough and allow the air to escape. Knead on a lightly floured
- surface for a minute, then roll into a circle about 2cm thick. Transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Stick a finger in the centre to make a hole, then move it around to increase the aperture so that you are left with a shape like a giant, flat bagel, a hole approximately 5cm in diameter.
- Sprinkle the chopped candied peel around the hole and nestle the fève or almond inside it. Fold the outer edges of the dough inwards, over the candied fruit and press to seal with the inner edge, forming a giant stuffed bagel: your couronne.
- Carefully flip the couronne upside down (the bottom side is generally prettier), cover it with clingfilm and prove once more in a warm place for two hours. Towards the end of the proving time, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6.
- When you’re ready to bake, remove the clingfilm and brush the cake with a bit of milk. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top, is a lovely deep golden colour. Once out of the oven and still warm, the couronne should be decorated. Place the apricot jam in a small saucepan and add the orange blossom water. Gently heat for one minute, then brush over the cake to glaze. Top with the glacé cherries and candied fruit, if using, followed by a generous sprinkling of pearl sugar. This keeps for two to three days in a cake tin.
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