Almond Puff Loaf

almond-puff

I’m a sucker for pastry, especially at breakfast, so when I came across this recipe for King Arthur Flour’s Almond Puff Loaf, which promised a delicious, multi-layered pastry in only a few simple steps, I knew I’d have to try it out. It starts with a base that’s halfway between a biscuit and a pie crust, and it’s topped with choux paste to provide some serious puff. The process reminded me a little of the Gateau St. Honoré, but the finished product was very different– probably because of the different ingredient proportions.

I also decided to add a layer of almond paste between the two doughs, to really amp up the almond flavor– I would highly recommend it to anyone seeking to try this recipe, along with using apricot jam, which pairs perfectly with the almond.

Almond Puff Loaf (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Base:

1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup water

3 oz. almond paste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour and salt, and cut in the butter until the largest pieces are the size of green peas.
  3. Add water a little bit at a time until the dough comes together into a sticky mass.
  4. Spread the dough out into two 10×4″ rectangles (they’ll be thin) on a foiled baking sheet.
  5. Cut the almond paste into 1/4″ slices and arrange them in a line down the length of the rectangles.

almond-puff-base

Choux:

1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract

1. Bring water, butter, and salt to a boil in a pot.

RD vanity boil

2. Remove from heat, and dump in all of the flour at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough.

3. Return to heat, and continue to work the dough with your spoon until you see a film of cooked dough on the sides and bottom of the pot. You’re trying to cook out some of the water to make more room for eggs.

RD vanity cooking

4. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer and let it cool for 2-3 minutes (you could also do this by hand).

5. Add the eggs, one egg at a time, mixing on the lowest speed until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Once the mixture forms a smooth, shiny, loose dough, stop– even if you have some egg left over. It should not be runny– when you pull your beater out of the mix, it should make a long, thin, triangle-shaped point, rather than breaking off in a ragged edge.

RD vanity ribbon

6. Spread the dough over the entire surface of your pastry bases, spreading it all the way to the edges.

7. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pastry is puffy and deep golden brown.

8. Remove from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes.

Topping:

1/2 cup apricot jam

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted (baked in a single layer at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes)

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tbs. milk

1. When pastry is slightly cooled, spread 1/4 cup jam over each rectangle.

2. Top with 2/3 of the toasted almonds.

almond-puff-process

3. Combine confectioners’ sugar and milk to make a thin glaze and drizzle generously over the top. Add the rest of the almonds.

almond-puff-loaf

Notes:

  1. I changed the dimensions of the rectangles from the original recipe to make them a little bit larger– otherwise I had too much choux dough and it spread so thickly it didn’t cook through in the center.
  2. Likewise I increased the baking temperature from 350 to 375 to ensure thorough baking of the pastry. I like mine a little crispy, not doughy, though if you like the slightly eggy effect– it was mistaken by one person for cream cheese filling– feel free to keep the temperature at 350 and bake for 50-60 minutes.
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