The 'banketstaaf', with its flaky pastry and center of 'amandelspijs' (almond paste), is pretty much as traditional as it gets for Dutch Christmas. It may look like it would be really complicated to make, but it's a piece of cake, especially considering that I use store-bought pastry. I'm unapologetic about that. As long as you use a really good store-bought variety made from the finest quality ingredients and real butter, you'll save yourself a lot of hassle without sacrificing any taste. In fact, I've been told many chefs buy in good quality puff pastry these days too. However, I do urge you to make your own spijs.
- 10.5 oz or 1 1/3 cup 'amandelspijs'/almond paste (300 g)
- 10.5 oz ready-rolled puff pastry (300 g)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- Powdered sugar, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 437 degrees F (225 degrees C). Cut the ready-rolled puff pastry into a strip of approximately 4.5" x 15" (12 cm x 40 cm).
Roll the 'amandelspijs'/almond paste into a log that is 1.1" (3 cm) shorter than the pastry (lengthways). Place on the pastry. Wet the edges of the pastry with a pastry brush dipped in water. Fold in the short ends first, and then fold over long bits and press at the seams. Now carefully flip the pastry over so that the seam is at the bottom. Brush with the beaten egg. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the pastry turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack.
Meanwhile, heat the apricot jam in a microwave-safe container for a few seconds, so that it melts a little. Brush the still-warm 'banketstaaf' with the apricot jam. Dust with powdered sugar.
Serve sliced, with freshly brewed coffee.
Make your own spijs (almond paste). You can also buy ready-made almond paste in most Dutch supermarkets, or online.
You can also decorate the banketstaaf with red glace cherries and/or toasted almonds slivers. Simply toast the almonds in a dry frying pan until they turn golden brown. Remove from pan and decorate the pastry with the toasted almonds. Now dot a few red glace cherries along the pastry.