Here’s a Christmas dessert from the far reaches of my distant memories—making Dutch treats must have gone out of fashion at some point for my family. I remembered an oblong loaf with almond filling in it, and my mom informed me it’s called banket (bahn-ket). I started with this recipe, gleaned useful information from this kind Dutch cook, and came up with the following:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1/4 c. water
1 7-ounce tube (3/4 c.) almond paste
1/3 c. white sugar (I used evaporated cane juice which is slightly more complex)
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 beaten egg
1/2 c. sliced almonds
The crust is basically a pie crust. Start with nice chilled butter, mix it into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter or fork, then slowly add the water until it forms a ball. Let it chill for a bit in the refrigerator while you mix up the filling. The almond paste can be a little tough to work with and make smooth. I used an electric mixer.
Take 1/2 of the crust dough out of the refrigerator and roll it into a long strip. Form the strip into a circle on a piece of parchment paper OR a large cookie sheet. Brush the edges with beaten egg. Now spoon your filling onto your circle like so:
Roll out the other half of your dough into a strip of similar size/shape, and plop it on top of the filling. Chilling everything (including the filling) makes this go a bit easier.
Now you want to paint more beaten egg on, using it as glue to attach the bottom pastry to the top. You may be able to tell at this point that I am not a professional pastry chef. But this mess gets covered by almonds, so don’t worry too much about it.
Brush the entire thing with the beaten egg, and sprinkle the sliced almonds on top. With a sharp knife, cut just a handful of small slits in the top to help prevent blow-outs. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or so, and you’ll have this beauty:
I baked mine on the same baking stone I use for all breads, but a cookie sheet would also be fine. In my first iteration of this, I baked it in long sticks at a higher temp (per this recipe). The crust was a bit flakier, but it also burned on the bottom and the almond filling burst out of a couple of them. Baking at a lower temp for a bit longer seemed to help. Plus, the wreath shape is festive, yes?
I actually made this several days ahead of time and then froze it, and it held up pretty nicely. I only wish one of my Dutch omas was still around to taste it. This is probably going to be a new holiday tradition. Happy New Year!