Almond Puff Loaf: A Flaky, Buttery, Jammy Pastry

One of the (many) benefits of working for a baking company is the wealth of recipe knowledge and expertise around me. Every day I’m surrounded with new inspiration: Truthfully, there aren’t enough hours in the day to make everything I’m jotting down on my “to make” list.

When I get a rave recommendation on a recipe from a coworker, I can safely assume it will be a showstopper. This almond puff loaf is absolutely no exception. It comes highly recommended by PJ Hamel, who promised me it was a favorite of hers from growing up and a perpetual crowd-pleaser amongst her friends and family.

Almond puff loaf via @kingarthurflour

Not one to argue with tradition, I immediately set out gathering the ingredients. The recipe looks a bit unusual and complicated at first glance. Composed of two layers topped with jam and toasted almonds and drizzled with icing, it might appear daunting to you.

But it’s a cinch! The base layer comes together like a biscuit dough: cutting in butter and pressing it out thinly. You mix up a simple choux pastry for the second layer and bake it all together.

Almond puff loaf via @kingarthurflour

The result is stunning. The jammy, buttery pastry would look at home in the display case of any French bakery. It puffs up impressively in the oven, then sinks quickly (don’t fret about that! It’s supposed to). The delicate, flaky base shatters at first bite, yielding to the gentle pull of the soft, eggy, popover-like top layer. Barely sweet and fragrant with almond extract, the pastry gets a decadent sugary touch from the jam and icing topping.

Almond puff loaf via @kingarthurflour

I brought it, warm and sticky with jam, to an office full of hungry desk-bound friends. It was devoured in minutes. Through mouthfuls of pastry they mumbled very high praise, so let that be an omen for how well this will go over at any summer party you’ll be attending.

Here’s how to make it. For the first layer, you’ll need:

1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup water

Almond puff loaf via @kingarthurflour

Combine the flour and salt, then cut the butter into the flour as you would for a biscuit recipe. Add the water and mix until the dough begins to come together. The dough won’t be entirely smooth. Divide the dough in half and use wet fingers (it will be sticky) to pat each half out into a 10″ x 3″ rectangle on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and make the second layer. You’ll need:

1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract

Bring the water and butter to boil in a medium saucepan. Once the butter melts, add the flour and salt all at once. Stir vigorously with a spoon or spatula until the mixture steams and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer immediately to a mixing bowl and beat for a minute to cool the dough down slightly.

Almond puff loaf via @kingarthurflourAdd the eggs, one at a time, and then the almond extract. Beat until the eggs are fully incorporated, and the dough is matte-looking and no longer glossy or shiny.

Almond puff loaf via @kingarthurflour

Spread half of the batter evenly over one of the dough rectangles, and the rest over the other. Wet your fingers and smooth the top of the batter.

Almond puff loaf via @kingarthurflour

Bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. The pastry will turn a deep golden brown and puff up immensely. Remove from the oven and let cool. It will very quickly sink but that’s OK! Don’t panic. It will still be light and airy inside.

Almond puff loaf via @kingarthurflour

Once you’re ready to finish the pastry, spread 1/3 cup of jam (I like apricot or raspberry) over each rectangle. Sprinkle with toasted almonds, and drizzle with icing. To make our simple icing, combine 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar with 1 teaspoon vanilla and about 4 teaspoons of milk. Mix until smooth.

Almond puff loaf via @kingarthurflour

I’m lucky to be the beneficiary of such excellent baking wisdom, and I’m happy to pass along the recipe recommendation to you. I promise that you’ll be the most popular guest at your next graduation party/Memorial Day cookout/potluck if you bring this pastry. Bake it, share it, and see for yourself!

comments

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Try “borrowing” the lightly sweetened cream cheese filling from our Inside-Out Pumpkin Muffins recipe here. Spread the mixture onto the cooled almond puff loaves before drizzling with the frosting, and voilà! You’ve got a Danish-style Almond Puff Loaf! Kye@KAF

  1. Patti

    What goes around comes around…I have been making this almond puff for at least 35 years and we never tire of it. I have never spread it with jam but with a cream cheese, powdered sugar glaze. I’m always open for new ideas and apricot jam might do it for me. It is always a big hit because it looks like something that would take hours to make. Try it, you will like it!

    Reply
  2. Whitney

    I tried this recipe as close as I possibly could to what’s written and unfortunately, the choux layer on mine came out flat and soggy. I think a few things may have happened: I removed it from the saucepan on the stove right away and I think it could have benefitted from a few extra cooking minutes to dry out the dough and I think the oven temp could be raised to 375 as that’s what I’m seeing (or higher) from a lot of other recipes. Mine took forever to puff up in the oven and at 50 minutes was golden brown but clearly not baked enough or allowed to “dry” out enough. It also would have been helpful to know how/when to finish it (do I let it cool and for how long?). I may try again with some tweaks. The flavor was great and I could see the potential!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re glad the flavor of this was a success, Whitney, and we’re happy to help with the texture! Your baker’s instinct is correct that the choux could have used more time on the stove. Some let choux paste cook for a minute, some until it forms a ball, I like to do it until a skin forms on the bottom of the pan. It’s usually about 45 seconds to a minute of stirring with a spatula or spoon. Cooking it longer will make it stronger so the inside can puff up and bake off nicely.
      For the jam, we usually add it when it’s still a little warm. The puff cools very quickly so you’ll only have a wait a minute or two. Aim for the puff to not be super hot, just because it could liquify the jam and make things soggy. We hope this helps, and that your next Almond Puff Loaf has as lovely a texture as it does flavor! Annabelle@KAF

  3. Carolyn

    Just happened to see this recipe in this weekend’s blog. I had everything on hand, which really isn’t much in the first place, so I decided to whip this up. I did use my food processor with a base layer and I spread it and the next layer with an offset spatula rather than my hands. I baked it for the full 50 minutes and used apricot jam on one and raspberry on the other. Toasted some sliced almonds, whipped up a quick glaze and just enjoyed a slice with a cup of tea. Delicious! I texted a picture of them to my daughter who wanted to know what the occasion was and then mentioned that she was coming over the next day to take some. Another great KA recipe

    Reply

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