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almond puff loaf ~today is your day


Today is finally the day I baked one of my favorites, the almost a Danish pastry-almond puff loaf has finally happened.  Does anyone else have the problem of having such a long list of things to bake for the holidays that the baking projects overlap into January?  January is the month of your diet.  January is dessert and alcohol free for the most part but it's different now that we're still under quarantine.  Everything that is normal is now upside down, even my baking, dessert, diet, wine etc schedule doesn't know what month it is.  Hello, it's January No desserts, sad.

So, there you have it, today is almond puff loaf day, a holiday recipe on my list since Thanksgiving that never made it to the top of the list.  Some other things, like special Christmas cookies, pies, cakes or breads took short cuts to the front of the line, I'm sure.  But, finally almond puff loaf moved into first position on the top of my list.  I was so happy that this day had arrived that I used both apricot and raspberry jam on my loafs, plus extra toasted sliced almonds on top and extra icing.  This recipe is one of King Arthur Flour baking challenge recipes and that's how I found it, tried it and put it on my holiday baking list.  I love this almond puff loaf recipe because it's the closest thing to a homemade Danish with jam I can think of that is so much easier and quicker to make than the traditional Danish pastry, ps also so much better than store bought Danish pastry.  This recipe has a few steps and takes a little bit of time but it's so worth it even in January, after the holidays.

Ingredients and Recipe for Almond Puff Loaf
makes 2 loaves

bottom layer
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick or 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/4 cup ice water

top layer
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick or 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract 

1/2 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup raspberry jam
2/3 cups toasted sliced almonds

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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

first make the bottom layer
Combine the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl, work in the cold butter bits with you fingertips until you have a crumbly dough, then mix in the ice cold water.  The dough will come together in a ball with visible bits of butter.  Cut the dough in half and with slightly wet hand form each piece of dough into a log.  Place the logs on the baking sheets and pat each one into a 10"x3" rectangle.  Leave at least 4 inches between each rectangle and 2 inches from the baking sheet sides.  Set aside.

next make the top layer
In a medium size saucepan, bring the water, salt and butter to a boil, butter should be melted.
Dump in the flour all at once and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture comes together, thickens, steams and comes away from the sides of the pan.  Immediately transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium speed for about 1 minutes,  to cool the mixture.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Mix in the almond extract.
Divide the batter in half, place each half on top of each rectangle.
Spread the batter over the dough rectangles, completely covering the dough, smooth the tops.
Bake the pastries for 55 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

for the jam and icing topping 
Spread the jams on the warm pastry.
Sprinkle on the toasted almonds.
Drizzle with the icing.
Cut into strips to serve.
Store at room temperature, best served same day it's made.
Rewarm briefly if served the following day or freeze for longer storage.


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