I fully planned on skipping all Christmas baking this year until Saturday rolled around.
But we finally didn't have any plans. And it was pouring rain. And nothing sounded better than tying on an apron, blasting Christmas tunes and spending the afternoon in my kitchen.
My ancestry is dutch (amazingly, 100%). I can actually trace back to at least my great-great-grandparents on both sides of the family who all came over from Holland.
Five generations later and much of my cultural heritage has been lost, but one thing that hasn't--dutch sweets! (ok, and cute delft teacups)
I spent my Saturday afternoon making my favorite dutch pastry--banket. And of course, I have to share it with you (because it's just not Christmas without it!)
Banket (pronounced Bahn-ket) is a flaky pastry stuffed with a sweet almond paste.
1 lb butter (4 sticks)
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. COLD water
1 lb marzipan/almond paste
(you can find this in the grocery store baking aisle, usually in a tube that is 8-10 oz. or you can try making your own)
2 c. sugar
3 eggs (separate out 1 egg-white and set aside)
1. I kneaded my almond paste a little because it had started to get dried out. Add sugar and eggs and let sit at room temperature while you make the dough
2. Cut butter into flour and break up the butter using a pastry cutter. Try to do this quickly
3. When the butter and flour are coarsely crumbled, slowly add cold water and mix until just combined. Do it quickly and do not use your hands! In order for the pastry to stay flaky the mixture must stay cold.
Use a wooden spoon when it starts getting thick, and don't ruin your pastry cutter like I did.
3. Cover dough with plastic wrap and deposit into freezer
4. Mix almond paste, sugar and eggs. You can use a mixer for this but I did it all by hand because I'm a traditionalist. Just kidding. I just didn't want to get my mixer out (even though using a spoon is a lot more work).
it kinda looks gross at this step
5. Deposit into refrigerator.
6. Make fudge (or otherwise occupy your time for about an hour)
7. Pull dough out of freezer and let rest for 15 minutes. While resting, dust your counter/table with flour, prepare a small bowl of water, and grease 2 cookie sheets.
8. Gently split dough into 4 portions, by squeezing or pinching off the pieces. Roll into a rectangle approximately 8 x 14
9. Cut rectangle in half with a knife. (You will end up with 8, 4 x 14 strips of dough)
10. scoop approx 1/3-1/2 cup of filling mixture into dough and shape into a squishy line about 13 inches long and 1 inch wide (I just eyeballed it. You could also divide into 8 equal portions)
11. gently roll both sides into the middle. Dipping a couple fingers in the water, wet the dough where the seam is created and lightly pinch to seal.
Fold in edges and seal.
12. Place seam side down on a greased cookies sheet. Repeat. Preheat oven to 425.
13. Brush banket sticks with a lightly whisked egg white or milk and prick with a fork about every inch along the top. (you can save 1 of the egg whites from the filling)
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes
14. Turn oven down to 375 and bake banket for another 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
15. Cry about the mess you made in the kitchen and beg your husband to help you clean it up.
Treat yourself to a cup of coffee and a beautiful, perfectly flaky almond-y sweet slice of banket!
(the mess will wait)
ps. you can also freeze the sticks at Step 12 and keep them to bake fresh year round!