Plum, al­mond and or­ange blos­som crostata with sug­ared thyme

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

Pre­heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line a bak­ing tray with bak­ing parch­ment and lay the pas­try on top. Chill un­til needed.

Us­ing an elec­tric mixer, beat the but­ter and caster sugar un­til pale, re­serv­ing a ta­ble­spoon of the sugar. Beat in the or­ange zest, or­ange blos­som wa­ter and vanilla, then the whole eggs, one at a time, beat­ing well af­ter each ad­di­tion. Fi­nally, beat in the ground al­monds and corn­flour to com­bine.

Spread the frangi­pane mix­ture over the pas­try, leav­ing a 1cm border all the way around. Fold in the edges to par­tially en­close. Top with the plums, and scat­ter with the de­mer­ara sugar and the pared or­ange zest.

Lightly whisk the egg white and dip the thyme sprigs into it, then coat them in the re­served ta­ble­spoon of caster sugar. Scat­ter over the crostata and bake for 35 min­utes or un­til the pas­try is golden and the plums are soft.

Once cool, dust with ic­ing sugar, if de­sired.

First, make the yeast dough. Crum­ble the yeast into the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt in a mixer bowl with a hook at­tach­ment and mix to­gether (if you are us­ing dried yeast, dis­solve it in the milk be­fore adding to the flour). Add the egg, milk and but­ter and com­bine to form a dough that comes to­gether in a ball. This will take about five to six min­utes on a medium speed. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for at least six hours or overnight.

To make the fill­ing, melt the but­ter in a small saucepan over a medi­um­low heat. Re­move from the heat, tip the sugar in and stir to dis­solve. Add the choco­late, co­coa and cin­na­mon and mix to com­bine. Set aside to cool a lit­tle at room tem­per­a­ture (don’t place it in the fridge, as it will set solid).

Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured sur­face and roll into a rec­tan­gle of about 50cm x 30cm. Spread the fill­ing over the dough, reach­ing right to the cor­ners, then sprin­kle with the hazel­nuts. Roll up tightly from one of the longer sides, so you end up with a 50cm log. If the dough has soft­ened too much for you to han­dle it, place on a tray and chill in the fridge for 10 min­utes. But­ter the loaf tin and line the base and long sides with bak­ing parch­ment. Mak­ing sure that there is an over­hang so that you will be able to lift the baked loaf out eas­ily. Use a pas­try cut­ter or sharp knife to cut the log in half along its length to ex­pose the lay­ers. Place the halves with the cut sides fac­ing up­wards. Lift one halved log over the other so that they form a cross at their mid­points, with the fill­ing lay­ers still point­ing up­wards. Con­tinue to twist the strands over each other un­til the dough looks like a lovely twisted plait. Place in the lined bak­ing tin and leave to prove in a warm place un­til the dough is fluffy, soft and dou­bled in size. This will take about one and a half hours in a warm kitchen, or up to two hours if it is chilly. While the dough is prov­ing, make the sugar syrup. Place all the in­gre­di­ents in a small pan and stir to dis­solve the sugar. Bring to the boil, skim off any foam and re­move from the heat. Pre­heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. If you want to use an egg wash, brush it over the sur­face now. Bake in the oven for 10 min­utes, then turn the tin around for an even bake and leave for an­other 10 min­utes. Re­duce the heat to 190C/170C fan/ Gas 5 and bake for a fur­ther 10 min­utes.

Re­move from the oven and im­me­di­ately pour the sugar syrup all over the hot cake. Let the cake cool in the tin or it will fall apart.

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