My former favorite bakery in town (former for a variety of reasons, including change of staff and consistent removal of my favorite pastries from their pastry case, never to be seen again) used to make bear claws. These were divine things, filled with just the right amount of almond paste, and if I got to the restaurant at just the right time in the morning, they would be still warm. Sigh. I miss those bear claws. I dream about those bear claws. However, they are no more.
I immediately bookmarked the page then when I found on SeriousEats.com a recipe for Almond Rolls. Could they be similar? Warm almond paste inside a pastry? I took the plunge and attempted the slightly complex (mostly because of the series of steps that involved lots of waiting) recipe. There were good pictures to accompany it and I was happy with recipe until I got to the last step. Baking. The oven temp was listed (which was pretty easy to figure out anyway), but bake time wasn't. All it said was bake until golden. How long is that? 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Exactly how golden are we talking?
I searched the net and discovered something interesting about food blogs. Did you know people have their own food blogs that just copies and pastes the entire recipes without adding their two cents or hints? It is so blatant copying that they don't even bother to change the blurb preceding the recipe, that is copied as well. Now why would you do that? Most of them don't even source the original. From I what I figured, they never made it either because they don't explain why it looks like (from the pictures) that the cook added something to her almond paste to make it more spreadable and not so pasty or how long to bake the darn things for! My eyes were opened and I remained frustrated about the baking time.
I just experimented, I had two pans of almond rolls and the second pan was baked perfectly at 20 minutes. Fifteen minutes was definitely too short. I am including the recipe (and not just ranting), but will continue to tweak and edit this post as I get them to perfection (which they weren't, in my opinion, but everyone who tried them said they were wonderful. I think they were just being kind). When you make this recipe, keep in mind these puppies need to rest for at least 9 1/2 - 10 hours (including one overnight resting). I suggest making this as a weekend activity for Sunday breakfast. Start the dough Friday night, roll and fold Saturday, and shape and bake Sunday morning.
This yields 16 rolls. Be prepared to share!
adapted from SeriousEats.com
1 c cool water
2 1/2 t instant yeast (this is not active dry yeast--if you can't find any label instant, use rapid rise yeast)
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c sour cream
3 c bread flour
1 t kosher salt
1/2 c cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
1 (12.5) oz can almond filling (not marzipan, but almond filling, Solo brand is easy to find)
1 egg, beaten with a little water for an egg wash
In a medium bowl, mix water, yeast, sugar, and sour cream. Whisk to dissolve sugar and set aside. Put flour and salt into food processor. Drop butter into processor and pulse a few times (think pie dough or biscuits---you don't want to overmix the butter). Butter should be chick pea size, with variation to the large or small side ok. Transfer the flour mixture to the bowl with the yeast mixture. Gently fold the mixture with a rubber spatula to moisten all the flour, leaving chunks of butter intact. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, generously flour the work surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle and roll out to about 12 x 16": it doesn't have to be exact. The butter should still be chunky and clumpy. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Repeat the roll fold three times. Be sure to work quickly because the butter shouldn't melt or soften too much. End with the folded letter, fold it in half and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least an hour (or as long as the next day).
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and cut into two pieces. Return half of the dough to the fridge. Flatten a piece of dough and cut into into 8 pieces. Roll a piece into a 3 x 6" rectangle. Put a T of almond paste in the bottom half (I had to shape the almond paste in my hands with my fingers and then lay it on the dough--it didn't spread with an other utensil. I want to tweak this step of the recipe. I'll let you know as I do...). Roll the dough up and place seam-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon mat. Repeat with remaining 7 pieces and then with the other piece of dough in the refrigerator. Once a pan is full, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes. Brush the rolls with the eggwash after the 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven from 20 minutes or until they are nicely browned. Let them cool and then eat (inside filling is much hotter than outside dough).