Monday, 11 January 2016

Rondos: Almond "Fingers" (Wheat Free with a Dairy Free Option)

Happy 2016, readers! I had a nice break, but as soon as I got back to my home, after having been at my childhood home for the Christmas celebrations, I got back into the kitchen and made some delicious almond 'fingers'!

Admittedly, they're not finger shaped. They would be if I had the special mould, but I had to improvise and use a muffin tin instead. For those of you who aren't familiar with an almond finger, this is what I'm talking about:

These were always a favourite of mine when we went to the shop to get cakes as a kid, so it was a joy to recreate them. When I was researching the recipe to make these childhood favourites at home, I discovered that their native Dutch name is 'kanos', or 'rondos' for round ones.

☑ Soya (check for soya lecithin)
☑ Dairy (use substitute in italics for dairy free)
☑ Wheat

☒ Refined sugar products
☒ Nuts (almonds)
☒ Gluten
☒ Egg

For the pastry,
  • 9 ounces (255 grammes) white spelt flour
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) butter, room temperature, or block margarine
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) icing sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • Zest of half a lemon

For the filling,
  • 5 ounces (140 grammes) ground almonds
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) icing sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • A few drops of almond essence

For finishing,
  • 1 medium egg, beaten with a little water, for glazing
  • 6 almonds, halved with skins removed

First, make the pastry.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with a wooden spoon until soft. Add in the sugar and lemon zest and cream again until smooth and fluffy. 
  • Add in the egg and mix until fully incorporated, and then sift in the flour. Mix gently until you get a nice soft and slightly sticky dough. You might need to resort to your hands if the mixture is too stiff for the spoon.
  • Divide the dough in half equally, using a scale, and then wrap each half in cling film, flattening it to make it chill faster. Chill in the fridge for at least 60 to 90 minutes, or in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Next, make the filling and assemble.
  • Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F, Gas Mk.2½, or very moderate).
  • In a mixing bowl, stir together the ground almonds and icing sugar until fine and free of any lumps. Add in the egg and almond essence, and mix until it becomes a paste.
  • Sprinkle the work surface with flour, and roll out the first half of the dough to just under a quarter inch (3 millimetre). Using a round cutter, or glass, or mug, cut out rounds to line a 12 hole patty tin, or muffin tin. Keep the trimmings aside.
  • Fill the cases with a rounded teaspoon of filling. Don't go mad: you want a gap of a few millimetres at the top of each case. I discovered the hard way that too much filling leads to cracked tops.
  • Roll out the second half of the dough and cut into slightly smaller circles for the lids. Brush the underside with water and use them to close each little cake. Pressing with the fingers is fine; no need for a fork.
  • Brush the top of each cake with beaten egg wash, prick with a fork to let air out, and press half an almond into the top.
  • Gather the trimmings together and squish into another dough ball. Wrap and keep for another project: you will have a little left over.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. If they puff up too much and crack, it's no biggy: just put less filling in them next time.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly in the tray, and then lift them out with the assistance of a blunt, thin bladed knife (like a palette knife). Move to a wire rack to cool completely.

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