Sunday, August 2, 2015

Almond and Marzipan Roulade

I wonder how much of the population can be self sustaining. How many people can just go outside and get everything they need in the way of food right off their land? For some, the possibility exists, but is lacking in motivation. Most of us would probably would buy something rather than going to all that trouble.

However, other cultures seem to be doing it much more that we do in the US. This particular recipe stems from an article in Saveur called the "promised" land. It refers to the richness of the land in Northern Israel as well as several chefs residing there. One chef left a thriving bread business with a chain of bakeries, looking for a simpler, more satisfying life. Now, he is surrounded by an overabundance of fresh produce with a garden that seems to have a little of everything. Also, he is teaching culinary classes in his home.

This almond roulade recipe is definitely a keeper. One of the factors is that it is easy to make, but looks difficult as well as stunning. The marzipan brings just the right amount of sweetness to the rich, buttery bread. Another factor that impressed me was the touch of lemon zest on top and how the syrup on top completely changed the texture. Upon removing it from the oven, it looked to be crusty, almost as if it would flake into crumbs when cut. Yet, after topping it with the syrup, the surface softened. The syrup also seals the bread, keeping it from drying out with time.

If you are like the majority of the people in the US, you are not self sustaining. However, the idea can be quite appealing if you look at it with the right perspective. Imagine sitting on your back patio, enjoying a slice of this delicious breakfast pastry with coffee, while your overlook your own garden paradise.

Almond Roulade
adapted from Saveur Magazine, May 2013

1 cup buttermilk
4 eggs yolks (3 for dough and 1 for brushing surface)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup warm water (separated into 1/4 cups)
1 1/4 cups softened butter
12 oz marzipan
1 cup sugar ( separated into half cups)
1 - 1/4 oz package active dry yeast
2 cups cake flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole almonds (toasted and chopped)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs coarse sugar

In a medium size bowl, sift together both types of flour and salt. Then stir in the yeast. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and set aside.

Take out another bowl and add buttermilk, 1/4 cup warm water, 1/2 cup of the sugar and 3 egg yolks. Mix together until evenly blended. Cut butter into 1/4 inch cubes. Pour buttermilk mixture into well of dry ingredients. Then drop in butter cubes. Stir with a wooden spoon until it becomes a solid dough mass.

Prepare a flat surface by dusting with flour and grease the interior of a medium size bowl. Take the  dough and knead for about six minutes on the floured surface. Form dough into a ball and place in prepared bowl and flip one time. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough. It can be refrigerated overnight, but must be chilled for a minimum of 2 hours.

After chilling process is over, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove dough from refrigerator and place on floured surface. Roll out dough and form a rectangle, measuring 11x16. Then sprinkle chopped almonds evenly over surface, leaving a 1 inch border on all edges. Lightly pat down almond pieces into dough to stick.

Divide marzipan into 2 pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle measuring 5x8. Place each piece, side by side on top of the almond studded dough, leaving only a 1 inch border. Press down lightly to adhere. Start rolling the dough up, jelly roll style from the long end. Once completely rolled, the dough should be facing with the seam in the center of the bottom of the log. Pinch and tuck the ends under, downward like the bottom seam. Place log, seam side down on the baking sheet.

Brush the surface of the dough with egg yolk and then sprinkle the coarse sugar evenly on top. Place in oven and bake until golden brown. Log should be cooked completely in about 1 hour.

45 minutes into the baking time, prepare the syrup topping. Fill a saucepan with the remaining 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar and place over medium high heat. As the saucepan heats up, stir the ingredients together. Then let come to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in lemon juice and zest.

Once loaf is completely baked, remove from oven and brush syrup topping over the top.  Let cool slightly before serving.

Tips and Notes:
1. The recipe refers to almond paste and marzipan as one in the same, but there is a difference.  Almond paste has more almonds and less sugar. I used almond paste, but which almond ingredient you use is personal preference.

2. For a less "chunky" filling, use sliced almonds (like I did). The sliced nuts are thinner and made for easier slicing.
                                            **LAST YEAR: Cinnamon Bun Pie**