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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dutch Almond Christmas Ring

This is another thing I tasted at one of the baking demonstration classes I sometimes attend. In this case, the description didn't appeal, but the samples handed around certainly did! Also, I'm a fan of traditional European Christmas foods, so that was another pulling point for me.
It's a sweet shortcrust pastry case with a soft filling made of ground almonds, lemon and glace cherries, topped with toasted flaked almonds and lemon icing. I took this one to a function, so don't have any cross-section images, but because I used natural almond meal (ie ground with skins on) it looked kind of like a sausage roll! I have always hated glace cherries, but the ones I bought from the shop are something else altogether. They're more jellied than chewy, and adding them to the filling worked really well. I think I've come around. Although, if you really can't stand them, you can use dried apricots or even those soft raspberry lollies ('though our teacher was not entirely approving!)
I really liked this, and am considering making another for Christmas day. It's not too hard, but there are a couple of steps involved, including making the filling 24 hours in advance. The fact it's non traditional-British will appeal to certain members of my family, who are not big fans of Christmas cake or anything with dried fruit or mixed peel. This is something a bit different, and apparently you can make it into smaller, individual portions if you're looking to give somebody a home-made foodie gift.
If you're looking for something a bit different, I highly recommend it.
Read on for the recipe:
Dutch Almond Christmas Ring (Kerskrans)
Makes 1 large ring or 8 rolls.

200g ground almonds (almond meal)
pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 cup caster sugar
zest 2 lemons
Mix all ingredients together, cover bowl in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 24 hours.
185g plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
25-30mls cold water
pinch salt
125g butter, chilled and grated (like grating cheese)
Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor. Add butter, process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add water very slowly as you process until pastry form a ball. Tip pastry onto lightly floured work surface, flatten dough into rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
Extra ingredients:
60g glace cherries, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon juice
flaked almonds
Icing sugar

To make ring:
1: Roll filling into a long sausage shape (approx. 60 cm). Set aside.
2: Roll pastry out into a long rectangle measuring approx 60cm x 10cm, trim edges straight.
3: Place the filling along centre of pastry, press chopped cherries into filling sausage.
4: Lightly brush dough with water, wrap over filling. Place pastry (seam side down) onto flat, greased tray. Form into ring joining ends, brush pastry with egg, sprinkle with almonds. Cover with plastic wrap, place in fridge for 15 minutes.
5: Preheat oven Fan forced 180C/ Gas/Elec 200C. Cook for 20-25 minutes until golden.
6: When cool, add lemon juice to icing sugar and drizzle over ring. Decorate with more flaked almonds or chopped cherries, if desired.
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