Almond Puff Loaf

READY IN: 1hr 30mins
SERVES: 16-20
UNITS: US

INGREDIENTS

Nutrition
  • FIRST LAYER
  • 12
    cup butter (4 ounces, 1 stick)
  • 1
    cup flour (4 1/2 ounces)
  • 14
    cup water
  • SECOND LAYER
  • 1
    cup water (8 ounces)
  • 12
    cup butter (4 ounces, 1 stick)
  • 1
    cup flour (4 1/2 ounces)
  • 3
    large eggs, at room temperature, warm them, in the shell, in hot tap water for 10 minutes if they're cold from t
  • 1
    teaspoon almond extract
  • TOPPING
  • 23
    cup jam (7 ounces) or 2/3 cup preserves (7 ounces)
  • 12 - 23
    cup sliced almonds (2 to 2 1/2 ounces)
  • ICING
  • 12
    cup confectioners' sugar (2 ounces)
  • 1
    teaspoon vanilla
  • 4
    teaspoons milk (approximately) or 4 teaspoons water (approximately)
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DIRECTIONS

  • FIRST LAYER: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the butter, flour, and salt (if you're using it), working the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or fork, your fingers, or a mixer.
  • Mix until everything is crumbly, then stir in the water. The dough will become cohesive, though not smooth.
  • Divide the dough in half; if you're using a scale, each half will weigh about 4 5/8 ounces.
  • Wet your hands, and shape each piece of this wet dough into a rough log.
  • Grease a baking sheet or sheets that'll allow you to stretch and pat the logs into 11 x 3-inch rectangles on the sheet, leaving at least 4 inches (but preferably 6 inches) between them, and 2 inches on each side. These puff up in the oven (hence the name), and you need to leave them room for expansion.
  • 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 will happen very quickly.
  • Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat it at medium speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just to cool it down a bit.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat until the dough loses its "slimy" look, and each egg is totally absorbed.
  • Mix in the almond extract.
  • Divide the batter in half.
  • Spread half the batter over one of the dough strips on the pan, covering it completely.
  • Repeat with the remaining batter and dough.
  • With a spatula (or your wet fingers) spread the batter until it completely covers the entire bottom layer of dough. Smooth it out as best you can.
  • Bake the pastry in a preheated 350°F oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it's a deep golden brown.
  • Remove it from the oven, and transfer each pastry to a wire rack (a giant spatula works well here).
  • TOPPING: Spread each warm pastry with about 1/3 cup of jam or preserves. (Any flavor is fine, but our favorites are raspberry and apricot.)
  • Sprinkle the toasted almonds atop the jam. By this time, your beautifully puffed pastries are probably starting to sink; don't worry, this is all part of the plan.
  • ICING: Stir together the sugar, vanilla, and enough milk or water to form a thick but "drizzlable" icing. Drizzle the icing atop the pastries.
  • Cut into squares or strips to serve.
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