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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- For filling, in a small bowl, stir together egg white, almond paste, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet. Cool on wire racks.
- For best results, use an almond paste made without syrup or liquid glucose.
Here are the ones I made!
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!