A few weeks ago, I did something that I’d been thinking about doing for a while. I emailed my favorite restaurant in D.C. and asked if I could work in their kitchen.
Well, “work” in the sense that I would do whatever they asked me to do, not in the sense of getting paid. For the past two Saturdays, I’ve reported to the kitchen as a stage and fumbled my way through prep and service. The second time was only slightly less nerve-wracking than the first. Luckily, most of the anxiety has faded as soon as I walk through the back door because I’m too busy trying to pay attention to everything, work quickly, keep busy, and not drop anything or cut/burn myself in the process. I’ve been mostly successful so far.
The afternoons have been all about basic prep. I picked herbs, sliced garlic on a mandolin, grilled bread, and generally helped get things in order before the Saturday-night rush. I helped one of the line cooks during service and eventually could (mostly) confidently assemble a few of the dishes to-order.
It’s been thrilling and crazy and totally different. It almost doesn’t seem real because it’s so out of context from my day-to-day life. The people have been fantastic, the work exciting, and the food delicious. I have a ton of thoughts and questions, but all I know is that I’m going back this weekend.
And back to our scheduled programming…
I picked up a tube of almond paste when it was on sale at the grocery store a few months ago and it’s been sitting on my shelf tempting me ever since. I love marzipan and almond croissants — anything with that intense almond flavor. I thought about almond sweet rolls but in the end decided on making a larger twist. The rolling-cutting-twisting process is much easier than it might look. The ribbons of almond filling twisting through the soft, yeasted bread are punctuated with bursts of fresh raspberries, because it’s spring and anything with fruit qualifies as breakfast in my book.
- FOR DOUGH
- 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ cup whole milk, heated until warm to the touch but not hot
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- FOR FILLING
- 5 ounces (a scant ½ cup) almond paste, cut into pieces
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1 6-ounce container raspberries
- FOR EGG WASH
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar, milk, egg yolk, and melted butter. Allow the mixture to rest for about 5 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface.
- In a large bowl, stir the flour and salt together. Add the milk mixture and stir until the dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth and springy, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
- Meanwhile, beat the almond paste, sugar, egg, and softened butter together with a mixer or food processor until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a pie dish.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and pat it into a flattened oval. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 18 by 12 inches. Spread the almond mixture over the dough, leaving a half-inch border. Distribute the raspberries evenly over the filling.
- Starting at one of the long sides, roll the dough up to form a long log. Press the seam lightly so it holds together and cut the roll in half lengthwise, leaving a one-inch section uncut at one of the ends. Gently turn the two pieces so the cut side is facing up. Gently cross the pieces over each other to form the twist, repeating until you get to the end of the dough. Pinch the ends together to create a ring.
- Transfer the ring to the buttered pie dish. Brush the exposed dough with the beaten egg. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. The internal temperature of the bread should hit 200 degrees, if you want to make extra sure. Allow the bread to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.