This is a yummy savoury pesto and sundried tomato brioche couronne! It’s a Paul Hollywood recipe from here, although I’ve just tweaked it a little by changing the filling. I used pesto and sundried tomato instead of mozzarella and ham. So, it’s a veggie friendly version! Any filling that’s not too wet could be substituted in this recipe. Some savoury ideas are marmite and cheese, walnuts and stilton or maybe thin chicken slices. It can also have some classic sweet fillings like cinnamon and sugar, nutella or lemon curd.
Brioche dough is much easier to handle using a bread machine or stand-aid. I have neither so it’s all done by hand! Brioche can be difficult to handle because the high butter content makes the dough really sticky. But as long as the dough is kept chilled it will be okay, as the butter will be firmer. Whenever the dough becomes too difficult to handle – just stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes and have a cup of tea, then return to your dough. I find that it is easier to knead all the dough minus the butter first, then knead in half the butter, then stick the dough in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up the butter, and then knead in the other half of the butter.
For the first rise it is often recommended to let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, as the dough will be firm and easy to handle in the morning because the butter won’t be all melty. I didn’t have time to let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, so I chose to let it rise for about an hour at room temperature, then I put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes or so. This is enough time to firm up the dough and make it easier to handle, but not so long that the dough freezes!! So that’s my trick for brioche in a hurry!
Ingredients for the dough:
500g strong white bread flour
10g instant fast action yeast
170ml full fat milk
250g unsalted butter – chopped into small pieces at room temperature (if you use salted just adjust the amount of salt in the recipe accordingly)
Ingredients for the filling:
About 100g pesto from a jar
About a handful of sundried tomatoes
Mix together the salt, flour and yeast. Ensuring that the salt is not poured directly on top of the yeast. Then add the milk and the eggs, and mix until a rough ball is formed. Tip this out on a kitchen surface and knead for about 10-15 minutes until the dough appears smooth, soft and shiny.
Next, gradually add bits of butter and knead them into the dough. If the dough becomes too sticky to handle at any point (which it probably will if you have a warm kitchen/warm hands) then put it in a bowl, cover, and leave to sit in the freezer for a few minutes. You can put it in the fridge; I used the freezer because it’s faster. Eventually you should have a smooth dough with all the butter incorporated.
Place this dough back in a container, and cover with cling film. Then, either leave to rise overnight in the fridge, or leave to rise at room temperature for about an hour to an hour and a half, and then place in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up.
Next is the fun part, shaping the dough! Have your sundried tomatoes chopped in small chunks and ready. Lightly flour the kitchen surface, and roll out the dough into a large rectangle, with the longer side facing you. According to the original recipe it should be just under 1 1/2cm thick (although I never really measure!). Spread a layer of pesto over this rectangle, then sprinkle over an even distribution of sundried tomatoes.
Roll up the dough, starting from the long side that’s facing you. You should now have a sausage shape.
Now, using a very sharp knife, cut this lengthwise, right down the middle. So you should now have two long strips that expose all the filling. This might look a bit messy and scary at this stage but never fear! Twist these two strips together, with the exposed filling facing upwards. This should form a long twisted rope. Form this into a circle by sticking the ends together. Ensure that there is a big enough circle in the middle, as after rising this will close up a bit more. This is now your ‘couronne’, meaning crown. Sounds posh doesn’t it?
Picture of couronne before rising and baking
Carefully lift this creation onto a lined baking tray. Then put this in a large plastic bag that won’t touch the dough. Leave this to for about an hour to an hour and a half. It should double in size!
Once risen, bake for about 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 200C (non-fan assisted). Keep a careful eye on it for the first ten minutes baking. Once it has achieved a golden brown colour, cover it with foil to stop it browning more. My couronne acquired the deep brown colour it has after only ten minutes baking time! I would’ve liked it slightly lighter, so lesson learned!
It’s so soft and fluffy inside! And not exactly healthy!