Now that I’m fully back in the spirit of things (better late than never?) my house is busting at the seams while I prep for the remaining Buddhas to make their presence known in Chicago later this week. Time to get some traditions going.
I love hearing about everyone’s family holiday must-dos. Back when we were in college, Treacle would describe how she and her family sang carols around the piano, and even her then 35+ year old brothers would get into the act. Rutabaga does the same with a clan of 27 people on Christmas Eve. Biscuit and sister watch the Sound of Music on the night before and awake to a Christmas gift scavenger hunt. And Orange and Lettuce follow Polish protocol by celebrating more on the eve than on the day.
I can’t say that my immediate family has any long standing tradition of activities. Depending on how many guests we had, Christmas morning would be an intimate gift opening of our family of four or, if we had more in tow, follow a regimented order of oldest to youngest, leaving poor Little Buddha waiting the longest (I was second to last. Boo). One year we decided it was a good idea to go to Disney World, so we rolled up to the Magic Kingdom around noon, and were one of the last cars they let in when the park filled to capacity. That was a mistake none of us will repeat.
Anyway, of all the things I can think, food has always been our biggest tradition, with certain dishes making their way to the dinner or snack table at some point during the Christmas season. Poppyseed rolls are coming at me soon via Mom, but other things like baklava and Mom’s Viennese honey cake are taking a pass this year, since there’s no use to have all of that food with 3 people, especially since one doesn’t really eat the sweets. Someday soon I hope our crowd will grow to accommodate more stomachs.
Today I’m bringing to you the Christmas food tradition of one of my coworkers, Marshmallow. She and I see eye to eye on many food things (for example, we both ended up bringing in Smitten Kitchen recipes for the cookie swap yesterday) and when I asked about her holiday favorites, she offered the Dutch classic sweet banket.
Banket is a pastry/pie dough wrapped around an almond paste filling. Now, I’m wearing of almond extract-y tasting things, but I don’t shy away from family favorite suggestions. And since Rutabaga’s fruit cake was the surprise of the century (who likes fruitcake? This girl apparently and you- it’s the most viewed/search recipe on the site), I was ready to be surprised with egg on my face once again.
Marshmallow didn’t have a recipe to share, but she linked me to the one from Delectably Mine. Seemed easy enough, but I of course had to change it a little by adding some thinly sliced apples because I had apples and figured I’d indulge the impulse. Plus, powdered sugar seemed necessary. Don’t you think?
The end result was delicious. You can trust this assessment with confidence since I don’t typically like almond paste or pie crust, which is essentially what the pastry part is, or fruit desserts. I think the combination made it great, and since this came out of the oven right around breakfast, I’d accept it more as that than as a dessert due to the aforementioned conditions and because of those same conditions, I can think of at least one or ten of my friends who would devour this before you can say Bob’s your uncle.
Slice the apples right before you put them in the pastry, otherwise you have to deal with lemon and all that to keep them from browning.
Seam side down on the baking sheet. I made one NOT that way and it exploded as a lesson to you all, so don’t repeat my mistake!
Don’t like or have apples? Don’t add them. You do you.
My almond paste was too tough for my wooden spoon, so I blended the filling in the food processor.
Would store bought pie crust work? Can’t imagine why it wouldn’t.
- 1 1/2 cups almond paste (not marzipan, and not almond pie filling)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg, separated
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1” cubes
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 apples, thinly sliced using a mandolin
- powdered sugar, to serve
- To a large bowl and the flour. Using a pastry blender, food processor or your fingers, add the butter and combine as if making a pie crust. Add the water slowly to let the dough come together. You don’t want it to be sticky. Refrigerate 1 hour, or overnight if desired.
- After the crust has set, to a small bowl, let the paste, sugar, egg, egg yolk and cornstarch stand in a bowl for 30 minutes. After that time, mix until smooth, using a food processor if necessary.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll each part on a floured board into an 8 x 13 rectangle. Divide that in half lengthwise, leaving you two long strips. Add 1/4 of the filling to each strip, spreading it to the length of the dough. Layer 1/4 of the apples on top of the filling. Fold over the ends of the dough and then the long sides, moistening one side with water to seal before pressing together. Repeat with the other 1/2 of the dough.
- Place each log seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Prick holes on the top and brush the top of the rolls with the remaining beaten egg white. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce head and bake an additional 20 minutes until light brown. Let cool 5 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar, slice on a diagonal and serve.
Written after the post office, before the shower.