Saturday, April 5, 2008

Danish Almond Pastry Puff

My family traditions center around food. I can't even remember when Mom started this, but for years now, every six months for General Conference Mom makes Danish Almond Pastry puff as part of the big brunch spread at their house for the Sunday morning session. So, every time conference is nearing, I start to have a hankering for the pastry. And pastry isn't something accessible in gluten-free baking. Although, after having a conversation with Mom about it, I decided that maybe it wouldn't be so difficult after all. Mom has too much confidence in me for my own good, but it's now baking, and we'll see how it works.
So, it's completed, and pretty-darn good for gluten-free. First I'll type in what I actually did, and then I'll add what I think, upon tasting it, will make it superb the next time around.

Danish Almond Pastry Puff

1/4 cup butter-flavored crisco, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 cup Featherlight flour mix
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 T ice-cold water

Cut butter into flour and xanthan gum with pastry cutter until fine. Add the cider vinegar and the water and mix with a fork until it forms a ball. Divide the ball in half. On ungreased baking sheet pat each portion of dough with hands into 12"x 3" strips about 3" apart.

1 c water
1/2 c butter
1 c GF flour
1 tsp almond extract
4 large eggs

In saucepan bring the water to a boil; add butter; cook until melted. Add the flour all at once, cooking and stirring with wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from sides of pan to gather into smooth ball. Remove pan from heat; stir in almond extract. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each until smooth. Divide dough in half; spread each half evenly over one pastry strip. Bake in 350 degree oven for 50 min or until golden brown and cooked through. (the pastry looked golden to me at about 35 min in, but I kept cooking it as it wasn't deepening in color, and I wanted to be sure the center was cooked, the original recipe called for an hour of baking)
Confectioners’ sugar icing:
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 T soft butter or marg.
1 to 2 T water
While still warm, frost with confectioners’ Sugar Icing; sprinkle generously with sliced almonds (I toasted mine before sprinkling). Cool; slice diagonally to serve. For tea table, cut pastries in half lengthwise before slicing diagonally to make finger puffs.

Although I hope the flavors might mature upon sitting, the almond flavor isn't a strong as I would like. So, these are my future ideas. My first plan was to add some almond extract to another small batch of an icing glaze to add to the top of the pastry, but then John mentioned almond paste, which is one of my favorite things in the world. We have another old family recipe for crescent rolls that we line with an almond filling and bake that we used to have for Christmas breakfast, that I think would make this quite good. So, essentially, take a small chunk of almond paste and mix it with an egg white (as you would in making a marzipan). Just use a fork in a small bowl, once the egg white has softened the almond paste so be spreadable, spread it along the center of the first layer of pastry, then top with the second layer of puffed pastry and bake. I think that will complement this nicely and give it a really great almond flavor. I tried this last suggestion this weekend, and it didn't work so well. Somehow the layer between the two types of pastry affected the way the top puffed, and so I wouldn't recommend it. What I do think is that the almond paste in the pastry puff needs to be increased to at least 2 tsp to compensate for the stronger flavor of the rice flours, and that the icing on top must have the almond extract in it.

Obviously, this is not an everyday thing, but it's really not as difficult as it sounds, and it's something I hithertofore though impossible of gluten-free baking.


Melissa said...

I can't wait to try this recipe- Thanks so much!

Non-C GF Baker said...

We're leaving for the funereal tomorrow, so I'll bring some by for you tonight.