A celebration of the medlar
This is a rather special recipe to celebrate the medlar and show it off in all its glory. The added spices and ingredients are there in small amounts to complement the flavour of this forgotten fruit. Make sure that the medlars have bletted before using them—patience is needed, but you will be rewarded by the fruits of your labour. Read more about medlars here.
For the enriched dough:
250g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
7g fast action yeast (1 sachet)
2 tbsp caster sugar
60g unsalted butter, soft & cubed
125ml whole milk, warm
For the medlar filling:
12 matured (bletted) medlars
75g light brown sugar
75g unsalted butter, soft
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cloves
Zest of 1/3 of an orange
40g walnuts, finely chopped
For the glaze:
Juice of ½ an orange
2 tbsp caster sugar
Start by making the dough. I would recommend using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer with the dough hook attachment, as the dough is very sticky. It can of course be made by hand, but it will be tricky to handle. Persevere with the kneading until you have a smooth and elastic dough.
In a bowl place the flour, salt and yeast and on opposite sides of the bowl, the sugar and butter. Turn the mixer on to a slow speed setting so that the dough hook can start to mix the dry ingredients. Crack in the egg and pour in the warm milk—it doesn’t need to be any warmer than body temperature. Leave the dough hook working on a slow setting until everything has mixed together and then turn up the speed to a medium setting and leave it alone for a good 10 mins.
After this time, the dough should be evenly combined, smooth and elastic. Scrape the dough out of the bowl on to a lightly floured surface and knead a little by hand to bring the dough into a ball. Place back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove until doubled in size—this will take around 2-4 hours.
While the dough proves, wash the medlars ready for roasting. Preheat the oven to 200C and line a roasting tin with some greaseproof paper. Once you’ve washed the medlars, pat dry and place in the roasting tin and sprinkle on 25g of the light brown sugar and dot evenly over 30g of unsalted butter. Roast the medlars in the oven for 15-20 mins or until the skins have split, remove from the oven and leave to cool so that you can handle them.
Scoop out the flesh from the medlars, discarding the skins and picking out the pips. Taste the medlars at this stage as this will determine how much sugar you need to add for the filling.
Add the remaining ingredients for the filling and mix together using a fork until the mixture looks like a paste. The spices and zest are there to complement the flavours of the medlar and the walnut is to add texture. Place to one side while you prepare the dough for the filling.
Once the dough has doubled in size, tip it out on to a lightly floured surface and roll into a sausage shape. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a long narrow rectangle, around 1cm thick. Dot the filling equally over the dough and use a spoon, spatula or even your fingers to evenly smooth out the filling.
Roll up the dough from the long-side like a swiss roll and trim the ends. Use a knife to cut all the way through the length of the dough, so that you have two long pieces of dough with the filling now exposed.
Twist the two pieces around each other so that it resembles rope, then carefully but with confidence shape the dough into a couronne/crown shape, wrapping the ends around each other to close off the circle. Carefully lift the couronne on to a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and arrange the couronne so that it is evenly spaced. Cover with a large sandwich bag split open or a piece of cling film wrapped loosely over the dough for its second prove. This prove should only take between 45-60 mins.
Preheat the oven to 200C. After the second prove, whisk the egg and brush over the dough carefully. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30-35 mins.
While the dough is baking, make a quick orange syrup to glaze the crown. Place the juice and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, then turn up the heat and let the syrup bubble for 2 mins to thicken. Leave to cool slightly while the crown finishes baking.
Once the crown is baked, leave for 5 mins then remove from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack. Glaze with the orange syrup and serve warm.
Recipe: Beca Lyne-Pirkis