Pumpkin Spice Couronne – a French sweet dough ring filled with pumpkin, warming spices and toasted pecans – just in time for autumn.
“I have Pumpkin Kringle at my desk,” she confided conspiratorially. All I could envision was an obscene mishmash of holidays that somehow culminated with a roundly obese Santa Claus in a pumpkin costume shacked underneath her desk. “Who exactly,” I wondered, “is Pumpkin Kringle?”
“You know what pumpkin kringle is, don’t you?” she inquired when I responded with a blank stare. (Ah, thank goodness, she said “what” rather than “who.” Pumpkin kringle, whatever it was, wasn’t a person at all!)
A kringle, I discovered that day, is a ring of Danish pastry dough filled with nuts or fruit, in this case pumpkin, which is baked and then iced. Racine, Wisconsin is the mecca of kringles and, hers, thanks to Trader Joe’s, was an ideal specimen of Racine’s baking prowess.
Now please don’t be confused, the recipe below is decidedly NOT a kringle. The recipe below is a Couronne, a French filled sweet bread. I only mention the kringle because it was the impetus for my foray into couronne baking this weekend. After I nibbled a bit of the kringle…okay, full confession, after I devoured two thick slices, I started dreaming about enriched yeast doughs, I started dreaming about breakfast sweet breads, I started dreaming about Paul Hollywood’s apricot couronne (which I’ve been meaning to make!), I started dreaming about pumpkin spice season (now!) and well…this just happened.
There’s really nothing more lovely than hand-kneading a supple enriched yeast dough. I love the texture of it under the heel of my hand, which is a good thing since my Kitchen Aid Pro Mixer died last week.
Pumpkin Spice Couronne
A rich French sweet bread filled with pumpkin, spices and toasted pecans.
- 2 cups strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons fast-rising yeast
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon full-fat milk
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 Tablespoon white bread flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground clove
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Zest from ½ of an orange
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup toasted chopped pecans, plus more for topping
- ⅓ cup apricot jam
- ½ cup powdered sugar
1. Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the salt to one side and the yeast on the other (salt can slow yeasts reaction so keep them separate in the beginning). Add the butter, milk and egg and stir to combine.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 6-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and supple. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until at least doubled in size (1-2 hours).
3. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar and heat over medium heat until melted. Add puree, flour, cinnamon, ginger nutmeg, clove and salt and stir over medium heat until mixture is thick and sticks to the spoon. Remove from heat; add orange zest, vanilla and pecans. Set aside.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently roll the dough into a rectangle, 13” x 10”. Spread the pumpkin filling evenly over the dough to the edges. From the long end, roll up the dough tightly, jelly-roll style. Roll it back and forth lightly to seal the edge.
5. Cut the dough in half lengthwise, leaving it joined just at one end – like a pair of legs. Twist the two dough lengths together, somewhat tightly and then join the ends together to form a circle. Transfer to a baking tray and cover with plastic wrap or a plastic baking bag.
6. Let proof for at least an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes (internal temperature 185). Place on a wire rack to cool.
7. Heat apricot jam in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, sieve and brush over the couronne to glaze. Mix the powdered sugar with enough water to make an icing. Drizzle over the couronne and sprinkle with remaining pecans.