I have been reading a lot lately, and viewing videos, of Dutch baking. The Dutch love almonds, they use them in so many of their baking recipes and I really liked the look of Gevulde Koeken, which means ‘stuffed cake’, or cookie. These are very popular and the same ingredients are used to make Kano or Rondo which are canoe shaped or round cakes filled with almond paste and covered in a very light pastry. I am able to buy the Kano, as Almond Fingers in my local supermarket and simply love them. So I decided I had to try to make something along those lines. Finding it impossible to buy the moulds for Kano I opted for this simpler version ‘stuffed cakes.
Basically it is a lovely pastry filled with almond paste. Almond paste is similar to marzipan, but has a different ratio of almonds to sugar. Marzipan is much sweeter. It could be used but making my own almond paste seemed the best idea.
Since I also intend to make Gevulde Speculaas, which is a traditional Dutch cake for St Nicholas day or eve, heavily spiced, I made double the amount of almond paste. But in the recipe below I simply give the amounts needed for these Almond Stuffed Cookies.
The recipe is simple, make the pastry, make the paste, assemble and top with almonds as necessary and then brush with egg. What could be easier.
The resultant cookies, or cakes, however you wish to call them are simply delicious, with a lovely crisp cookie exterior and the soft paste inside, with a hint of lemon.
I should say that I used cake and pastry flour, which is a very soft and finely ground flour, similar to Zeeland flour from Holland, but plain flour(all purpose) flour would be very good too.
For the pastry:
- 300g cake & pastry flour(or plain/all purpose flour)
- 200g softened unsalted butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 6g baking powder
- 1/2 a medium egg, whisked(25g) (large in USA)
For the almond paste:
- 150g ground almonds(as finely ground as you can)
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 medium eggs, whisked(large in USA)
- a little water, if needed
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- a drop of almond extract, optional
For the top:
- Remainder of the pastry egg, for brushing
- Blanched, peeled, almonds for decoration
- Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl and cream together until light and fluffy(I used a hand mixer).
- Add the 1/2 egg and beat to combined.
- Add the flour, with baking powder mixed into it, in two additions and gently work into the wet mixture until all is combined into a soft paste.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Place the ground almonds and sugar into a bowl(if the ground almonds are not very fine process them with the sugar in a food processor to make the grains smaller).
- Mix together and add the lemon zest and mix in.
- Add the eggs and a drop of almond extract if using it, a little at a time, mixing until you have a soft paste it needs to be of the consistency that could be piped from a bag but still hold its’ shape. You may not need all the egg, or you may need a little water to achieve the consistency.
- The paste can be made the day before and chilled in the fridge(don’t eat the paste raw as it has uncooked egg at this stage).
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
- Roll the pastry out to 1/8 inch/3 cm thickness and cut out 10cm round circles, re-rolling as necessary. I got 14 rounds, so 7 cookies.
- Place a mound of almond paste in the middle of half of the pastry circles.
- Brush around the edges with egg.
- Place the other half of the pastry circles on the tops and gently press down to seal the edge, leaving a mound in the middle which encases the almond paste.
- Brush the tops with egg and decorate with 1, 3 or 5 blanched almonds as required.
- Brush again with egg and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops are lovely dark golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to wire rack to cool.