I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon assisting Nina Oortman, with one of her basic bread making classes, which 3 terrific women had signed up for. One, a PA in the City wants to get into private catering, another, a new mum, wants to open a cafe and the third wanted to improve her skills. All three ladies went home with a huge amount of information, newly acquired bread making skills and lots of freshly baked bread and rolls.
Nina runs really small, relaxed classes and I can’t recommend them highly enough. She has had people come from as far as Oxford and Brighton proving that the classes are not limited to people who live locally! Take a look at her site to see what she offers and when – http://breadangels.com/profile/nina-oortman – the Party Breads class looks fantastic! After all the dough has been kneaded, proved and shaped, Nina breaks for a light lunch/tea offering cheese, some just made soda bread, jams and home made cakes. This time she also brought in a stack of her Rye Crackers (Party Breads) which are amazing. She suggested that I make something and bring it along to showcase my blog. As you can imagine, she did not have to ask twice!
I have had this recipe for Almondines for some time – it probably came from a magazine in a waiting room where I often scrawl down recipes, and yes, I do know that people rip out the recipe pages but I find that intensely irritating and rude, so I don’t. This recipe is for a lovely short biscuit base topped with honeyed sliced almonds and citrus zest. If any of you know the provenance of this recipe, please do leave me a comment.
Almondines are incredibly quick and easy to make, especially if you are using a food processor. I have also given instructions for making it without.
For the base:
- 120g plain flour
- 50g ground almonds/almond meal/almond flour
- 3 Tbsp golden caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 90g cold, cubed butter
- 1 egg yolk (large)
- 2 – 3 Tbsp water
- ½ tsp vanilla paste or extract
For the topping:
- 60g butter
- 2 Tbsp honey
- Zest of one lemon or orange
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 100g flaked almonds
- Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F. Line an 8 inch square tin with with non-stick foil or grease proof paper. See No 18 on my tip and tricks page for an easy way to do this.
- Place the the flour, almond meal, sugar and salt in the processor bowl and pulse a few time to mix.
- Add the cubed butter and process until mixture resembles damp sand.
- Tip the yolk, 2 Tbsp of water and the vanilla down the chute and pulse until the dough come together when pinched. You may have to scrape the sides down once. Add a little extra water if necessary.
- Place the the flour, almond meal, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk well to mix.
- Cut in the butter until the mix resembles damp sand.
- Whisk the egg yolk , vanilla and 2 Tbsp of water together and add to flour mix.
- Using your hand, mix until dough holds together when pinched. Add a little extra water if necessary
- Press the crumbly dough into your prepared pan. I wet the bottom of a flat bottomed glass and tamped down gently until the base was covered.
- Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly coloured.
- In the meantime, place the butter in a small pan to melt over medium-low heat.
- Add the zest, honey, salt and vanilla and stir until the honey has melted and everything is thoroughly mixed.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the almond flakes.
- Tip out the topping onto the warm base, spreading out as evenly as possible. There will be a bit of liquid but don’t worry – just spread it as evenly as you can.
- Bake for another 10-12 minutes until the almonds are golden and before the edges catch (ahem)!
- Let cool in the pan for 10 or 15 minutes, then using the foil/baking parchment as handles, remove from pan and lay on a wire rack to finish cooling.
I find that the best way to slice these sort of bakes is as follows:
- Using a long sharp knife slice the bake in half.
- Then slice each half into two equal slices so you now have 4 long equal slices.
- Spin the paper a quarter turn and do the same again – slice in half and each half in two. You should have 16 fairly equal squares.
Store in an air-tight tin and eat within two or three days if they last that long!