Swedish Almond Toast
In a book I just finished reading, the author made mention of foods that brought back the past for her, and it made me start thinking about dishes that were once key elements of my culinary repertoire, or that were common in our family at one time, but which have vanished over the years. Some of these recipes were wonderful, and I wonder sometimes why they’ve slipped away. Of course, in many cases, it’s simply because life changes. The way I entertain now is not the way I entertained when I was starting out.
When I was first living on my own, entertaining was often as simple as cookies and coffee. Of course, it could be elaborate for special occasions, but it didn’t have to be. I already had a dozen or more good cookbooks, but most of my recipes at that point were either from home or from college.
One of my favorite recipes for entertaining had been obtained from a Swedish suite-mate during my junior year in college. I had learned at an early age that coffee was widely known as “Swedish gasoline,” so my friend’s love of the beverage was not surprising. But she introduced us to a Swedish custom related to coffee drinking that quickly became an addiction for all of us: dunkies. “Dunkies” was in fact the informal name for a fabulous, rich, toasted, almond cake that was spread with butter and then dunked in one’s coffee. This leaves crumbs and something of an oil slick in your cup, but the combined flavors and textures are so good, you won’t care.
So here, from college and my early days of entertaining, is Swedish almond toast. These toasts are reminiscent of biscotti, but are far more luxurious. Enjoy.
Swedish Almond Toast
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup chopped almonds
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. almond extract
about 4 cups flour
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add flour mixture a cup at a time, alternating with the half-and-half. Mix in flavoring and almonds, stirring to make sure they are incorporated throughout the batter.
The original recipe stated that you should divide this batter among three wax paper-lined bread pans. I’ve always used greased and floured square cake pans, with no noticeable difference in the outcome. I suggest you accommodate this to whatever combination of bakeware you possess.
Bake at 300°F for one hour or until lightly browned. Let cool and remove from baking pans. Cut into half-inch-thick slices. If you used bread pans, cut each slice into three lengths. If you used square cake pans, cut each slice in half. (The idea is to have a shape and size that is vaguely biscotti-esque.)
Place the slices on cookie sheets and return to the 300°F oven to “toast.” (It is okay, however, to sneak a piece to enjoy while you’re working. The intermediate stage is quite lovely and cake-like.) Bake for one hour, or until brown on all sides, turning the toasts regularly during the hour.
Cool and store in an airtight tin. If you are not going to consume them relatively quickly, you might want to refrigerate them, to avoid rancidity. They never lasted long enough for me to find out how long they’d stay fresh, but if unrefrigerated, I wouldn’t go beyond a week.
You may eat these on their own or with milk, but the traditional way to enjoy them is buttered and dunked in coffee.
You can substitute milk for the half-and-half. Flour amount is approximate, because the humidity level can affect your dough. Most of the time, 4 cups will work, unless you’re at a high altitude or in the tropics.