Dutch Letters

We have friends who live in Iowa, and we visit them quite often.  During one of these visits we went to the Pella Tulip Festival.  If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it. It is an adorable little town, with great food, beautiful flowers, and fun activities.

When I say great food, I’m specifically thinking about Jaarsma Bakery.  They have some very delicious items for sale.  One of my favorite items is a Dutch Letter.

I don’t like almonds, but I love these.  They are a light flaky pastry filled with an almond paste based filling.  So delicious.

dutch-letters-12

Well our friends from Iowa visited us a few weeks ago and brought some of them with them.  I was then feeling pretty ambitious, and decided to make my own! I found many recipes that said they were based off the Jaarsma recipe.  I chose the one that looked the most reliable.  Though, they were all pretty much the same.  The only thing I would do differently is, I would use an egg wash on these.  The recipe doesn’t say to, but another one did, and I think that would have helped keep them in one piece.

Dutch Letters

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cold butter (1 pound)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 8 – ounce can almond paste
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar

directions

  1. For dough, in a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut cold butter into 1/2-inch-thick slices (not cubes). Add butter slices to flour mixture; toss until slices are coated and separated.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together egg and ice water. Add all at once to flour mixture. Using a spoon, quickly mix (butter will remain in large pieces and flour will not be completely moistened).
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured pastry cloth. Knead the dough 10 times by pressing and pushing dough together to form a rough-looking ball, lifting pastry cloth if necessary to press the dough together. Shape the dough into a rectangle (dough still will have some dry-looking areas). Make corners as square as possible. Slightly flatten dough. Working on a well-floured pastry cloth, roll dough into a 15×10-inch rectangle. Fold 2 short sides to meet in center; bring top edge down to meet bottom edge to form 4 layers each measuring (rectangle will now measure 7-1/2×5 inches).
  4. Repeat the rolling and folding process once more. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Repeat rolling and folding process 2 more times. Chill dough for 20 minutes before using.
  5. For filling, in a small bowl, stir together egg white, almond paste, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Set aside.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut dough crosswise into 4 equal portions. Wrap 3 portions in plastic wrap and chill. On a well-floured surface, roll 1 portion into a 12-1/2×10-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle crosswise into five 10×2-1/2-inch strips.
  7. Shape a slightly rounded tablespoon of the filling into a 9-inch-long rope and place it down the center of one strip. Roll up the strip lengthwise. Brush edge and ends with water; pinch to seal. Place, seam side down, on an ungreased baking sheet, shaping strip into a letter (traditionally the letter “S”). Brush with water and sprinkle with additional granulated sugar. Repeat with remaining dough strips and filling. Repeat with remaining dough portions and filling.
  8. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet. Cool on wire racks.

tip

  •  For best results, use an almond paste made without syrup or liquid glucose.

Here are the ones I made!

Dutch Letters Dutch Letters 2 Dutch Letters 1

 

As you can see, they are broken.  That’s because these are actually the ones I mailed to Houghton.  They didn’t travel well.  I’m trying to find ways to prevent that.  I think maybe mixing the butter in a little more will help, and the egg wash should help give it a slight shell that should work.

I did an S, but you could do any letter you want.

These are quite tasty!

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