These brioche couronnes were the first breads I ever made. They have been a real hit as a treat for my colleagues at our monthly office breakfasts, and they’re my son’s favourites, too.
Make the dough. Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Crack the eggs into a measuring jug and add enough warm milk to make it up to 290ml. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix on slow speed for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. With the mixer on slow, mix in a quarter of the butter, then add the rest, a quarter at a time, mixing well between each addition, to a soft, shiny dough.
Cover the bowl and chill for 4-5 hours, until the dough is firm enough to shape. (Leave it overnight to develop more flavour, if you have time.) Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces. Lightly flour the work surface and roll out each piece to a 45 x 22cm rectangle. Sprinkle the paprika equally on top of each rectangle, then lay the slices of ham on top and sprinkle the cheese and chives over. Season with black pepper.
Roll up each piece of dough from a long edge in a tight roll, then cut in half lengthways to give you 4 equal pieces. Take 1 piece of dough and twist it along its length, then form it into a circle and press the ends together to seal. Repeat for the remaining 3 pieces. Place the couronnes on 2 baking sheets, then transfer to a proving bag and leave to prove for 4-5 hours, until the dough is soft and puffy, and almost doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/Gas 5. Brush the couronnes with the beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. (Cover with foil after 15 minutes if they become too brown.)