Monday, May 24, 2010

Almond Puff Loaf

I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website and had to give it a try. I love almond flavoring, but even more important, I was intrigued by the combination of a bottom crust that was similar to pie crust, topped with a choux-type pastry.

According to the website, this recipe has been around for a long time, but I was pretty sure I'd never seen anything like it. I've seen all the parts of it; I just never saw them all combined like this.

I left the almonds off, but I can see how they'd add a nice crunch.

Since the dough isn't very sweet, you can easily control the sweetness by changing the toppings. Instead of a sweet jam, I think this would be great with something like an apple butter or even an almond paste. Lemon curd would be nice, but maybe replace the almond extract with vanilla. Pastry cream would be good, too, with or without the jam.

Almond Puff Loaf
Adapted from a recipe on the King Arthur Flour website

First Layer
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pats or cubes
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt (only if you're using unsalted butter)

Second Layer
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup all purpose flour
3 large eggs, at room temp
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt (only if you're using unsalted butter)

jam or preserves, about 1/3 cup per pastry
1/2 to 2/3 cup sliced almonds (I didn't use any. It's your call)

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

First layer
Combine the butter, flour, and salt, working the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture is crumbly. Stir stir in the water. The dough will become cohesive, but not smooth.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each piece of the dough into a rough log. Pat the logs (I used a small pastry roller) into 11 x 3 rectangles on the baking sheet, leaving at least 4 inches between them, and 2 inches on each side.

Note: 11 inches seemed a bit long since I placed them vertically on the sheet, so mine were about 10 inches long and a bit wider than 3 inches. I should have put them horizonally, and I could have made them longer and thinner. Oh well.

Second layer
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil. Stir until the butter melts, then add the flour (and salt, if you're using it) all at once. Stir the mixture with a spoon till it thickens, begins to steam, and leaves the sides of the pan. This happens quickly.

Move the dough to a mixing bowl and beat it at medium speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute, to cool it down a bit.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Keep beating until the dough loses its slimy look, and each egg is totally absorbed, then mix in the almond extract.

Divide the batter in half. Spread half the batter over each of the dough strips on the pan, covering them completely. When the batter completely covers the entire bottom layer, smooth it out as best you can.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it's a deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and transfer the pastries to a wire rack.

Spread each warm pastry with about 1/3 cup of jam or preserves. I used cherry-blackberry, but any flavor that works with almond would be fine.

Sprinkle the almonds on top of the jam. (I didn't use any, but they would be nice) By this time the pastry will have started to soften and deflate a bit. That's what they're supposed to do.

Stir together the sugar, vanilla, and water to form a thick but pourable icing. Drizzle the icing over the pastries.

Note: when I make this sort if drizzle, I often add another flavor to it. Depending on the pastry and filling flavors, I might add a bit of almond, maple, or even use coffee instead of the water.

Slice into squares or strips to serve.

1 comment:

Catherine Peart said...

Oh my gosh, this looks good!!

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