My family has this holiday house in Maine that we inherited from my great grandmother, right on the rocky coast of America, looking out across the Atlantic. Well, I say house, but it is more like a large, well-endowed shed. In fact, it is a chicken coop, that was brought over on a boat from one of the surrounding islands, balanced on some big rocks, and had a couple of bedrooms and a bathroom added. It’s very simple and very small, and we just love it there.
But I am getting sidetracked. There is a point to this seemingly pointless story.
When we lived in Connecticut, when I was a child, we used to wake up at 5am to start the eight hour drive to my great grandmother’s house, in Maine. About nine o’clock we would finally cross the Piscataqua Bridge, which connects New Hampshire and Maine. Halfway there!
And every time, without fail, we would stop for cinnamon rolls. I think the promise of such sugary, sticky breakfast was the only way my parents managed to coerce us into the car, still in our pyjamas and half asleep. After great granny died, we cchicken coop-cum-house was our only connection to Maine left, we still stopped for cinnamon rolls.
Even now, we live 3000 miles away, but the drive from southwest Connecticut to Northeast Maine has not changed.
I haven’t been there for nearly three years and I must admit that I’m feeling pretty homesick for it.
And when I’m homesick, I bake. Nothing makes me think of Maine more than cinnamon rolls (well, or lobster or blueberries!) This couronne is basically like a giant cinnamon roll. But with a twist (literally!) It is a wonderful thing to make on a lazy weekend morning- and even better to eat!
Cinnamon Couronne (recipe adapted from the BBC, find it here)
For the dough:
250g strong white bread flour
7g instant yeast
50g unsalted butter, softened
1 free range egg, lightly beaten
100g caster sugar
Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, milk, egg and sugar and mix to combine.
Continue to mix until you have picked up all the dry bits!
Tip it out onto a floured surface and knead it for 10-12 minutes. It might been a bit wet at first, but keep going until it starts to become smooth and elastic.
When it feels smooth and silky, put in back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for one hour, or until it has doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, make the filling:
90g butter, softened
70g light muscavado sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
35g plain flour
zest of an orange
Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Mix in the spices. Then add the flour and orange zest and mix to combine.
When the dough has risen, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. Trying not to knock too much air out of it, roll it out into a rectangle. Turn it so you have a long edge facing you.
Spread the mixture evenly over the dough. Roll it up tightly along the long edge, like a Swiss roll. You should have a long dough sausage.
Cut it in half lengthways, exposing the layers of filling inside.
Keeping the filling facing upright, twist the two lengths of dough together to make a long rope, then form them into a round ‘crown.’ Transfer it to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
Leave to rise again for 30-40 minutes. When its risen, the dough should spring back when lightly touched.
While its rising, preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
Bake it for 25-30 minutes, or until risen and golden brown. Don’t worry if some of the filling seeps out a bit or starts to brown more quickly than the dough- that’s part of its charm!
To make the icing:
200g icing sugar
splash of water
Mix the icing sugar with just enough water to bring it together into an icing consistency. You do not want it to be too thing and runny! It should be a nice, solid white colour.
Drizzle over the bread, cut and enjoy!