This spring, I got on a bread-baking kick. Usually, I quickly learn what I want when I’m on a kick, but, to date, I’ve only had one notable success baking bread. My husband, seeing me busy baking, requested that I make Dutch letters. I was a little apprehensive about these, but I gave them a shot anyway. I started small, with purchased puff pastry. Easy, and I learned how to shape the logs. I did go with logs, since they take up less storage and baking space. After finishing the box of puff pastry, I moved on to the real deal. I roughly followed a recipe with some obvious issues (some of the ingredients apparently just sit on the counter the whole time. I think they’re still on my counter…). How did it go? Well, I guess this Dutch girl just has Dutch letters in her soul, because they were delicious. And they looked pretty good, too.
I’m not going to reprint the entire recipe here, but I’ll pass along some tips.
- Buy the almond paste in bulk if you think you can use it. My batch of twenty Dutch letters used about $3 in almond paste, but that would have been about double if I’d bought a single container of paste. My mom actually buys it, and we split it up.
Give it a try. My husband was recently treated to Dutch letters from a local grocery store bakery, and you might be able to read the tiny print that indicates this package (originally two pastries) cost $4.69. I figure I made a batch of twenty Dutch letters for about $7, a savings of almost $40. Although it took me over an hour to make these, I now know my kitchen utensils well enough to make them in less time for the next batch. I didn’t get a taste of these until they were almost two days old, so I shouldn’t judge the taste or texture. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be better than mine, though.
- Freeze them. The standard way to freeze these in my Dutch community is to piece together the logs, and freeze before baking. They can be tossed on a baking sheet and made fresh in about as much time as it would take to run to the store for a special treat.
Here’s how I flattened them and placed the filling. I rolled from the filled side to the empty side and pressed the seam.
- Don’t fret about getting the pastry dough exactly square. It’s not a big deal if some pastries are longer than others.
- I cut them in half before freezing, since I don’t have handy containers for such long logs.
- We’re currently having a family debate as to whether to thaw the frozen letters before baking or not. I think they didn’t puff as well when they weren’t thawed, but they tasted just as amazing.
- I need to find a better way to spread the filling. No tips for you there. I might try a cookie press with a fat tip next time.
Have you made Dutch letters? What handy tricks do you have?