I have long enjoyed the Almond Fingers that we can buy in the stores in the UK. They are made in Holland and are simply wonderful. But that got me to thinking about whether they were popular in Holland. So after some research I discover that Kano (shaped like a canoe) and Rondo shaped as a round cake are very popular. I found a great recipe on Weekend Bakery to make them. In fact I also bought my Kano molds from there since I couldn’t find them anywhere else at all. Unfortunately they no longer sell Rondo rings so I had to make to and mend for those.
Now these cakes are made with two layers of buttery, crumbly pastry with almonds paste sandwiched between them. The taste is fantastic and is so much better than the flavour of the shop bought ones(though they are still wonderful). In making the recipe I also took account of the fact that many people would not have access to either the Kano or Rondo rings, so I made a couple in a muffin tin too. That works fine, just that there is slightly larger pastry to almond paste ratio in those.
The recipe is actually very easy to do, and can all be done in a couple of hours, unless, as recommended on Weekend Bakery you wish to make the almond paste the day before, to give it time to ripen.
For mine I actually added some almond extract as I didn’t wish to wait 24 hours from making the paste to making the cakes.
I am so pleased at how mine turned out, though I had done a practice bake a couple of weeks ago which gave me some confidence.
The texture of the cake is great, a rich, buttery pastry and the soft chewy almond paste in the middle. I am sure than anyone who makes them will not be disappointed.
for the pastry dough
- 200g Pastry flour(or plain flour)
- 5g baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 100g light brown muscovado sugar, or soft white sugar(at a push caster sugar would be fine)
- 150g cold butter cut into cubes.
For the almond paste and topping: (you can make this in advance, but don’t add the egg until the day you intend to use the paste)
- 75g almonds, chopped or blanched whole almonds
- 75g caster sugar
- zest from 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp almond extract(optional)
- water for mixing
- 10 whole almonds or shaved almonds
- 1 egg beaten(you wont need all of the egg).
- Mix the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt together and place into a food processor(or a large bowl).
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture becomes like fine breadcrumbs(or cut the butter into the flour by hand).
- Pulse again until the mixture is about to clump together.
- Tip out onto the work surface and use your hands to pull together into a dough(do not overwork).
- Divide into equal parts and wrap in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for an hour.
- Grind the almonds and caster sugar and the lemon zest together to get a fine textured crumb(I used my immersion blender).
- Tip into a bowl and add the almond extract, if using.
- Stir in and add water, one teaspoon at a time, until the mixture begins to form a thick, damp, paste.
- Don’t make it too wet. If making the day before wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
- When ready to use the paste place it in a bowl and break it into small pieces.
- Add egg a little at a time and mix until the paste is smooth and is of the consistency that can be piped from a bag, but still firm enough to hold its shaped when piped.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper(or get a muffin tin).
- Place one disc of pastry dough onto a lightly floured work surface(if the pastry is too hard you can knead very slightly to make it easier to roll).
- Roll out to a thickness of 4mm, between 1/8 and 1/4 inch.
- Use your kano or rondo rings to cut out 10 shapes. If using a muffin tin you a cookie cutter to cut out circles of about 9cm(3 1/2 inches).
- Place the cut out pastry into the rings, or muffin tin.
- Place the almond paste mixture into a piping bag and pipe a blob into the centre of pastry in rondo rings, or a strip on the pastry in the kano rings, or a blob into the well of pastry in muffin tins.
- Roll the remaining disc of pastry and cut out 10 shapes again, as before but for muffin tins this time use a 7 cm(3 inch) cutter.
- Place the cut out pastry over the piped almond paste and gently press the edges of the pastry down onto the edge of the bottom layer of pastry. This will leave a dome in the middle where the almond paste is.
- Brush all over with beaten egg.
- Place an almond on the top and press gently.
- Brush all over again with egg.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the tops have gone a lovely golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then gently remove from the moulds, onto a cooling rack to cool completely.