My cousin and I can’t really agree on what to call our grandmother’s recipe. We may never agree, and that’s okay, because no matter what you call it, it still tastes good. And starting this week, at least in my house, it’s Gluten Free and I’ve already eaten half this loaf.
Here are the facts:
Mandel bread is similar to Italian biscotti, in that traditionally it is baked twice. The original Yiddish name is Mandelbrot, which translates to almond bread.
According to my (minimal) internet research, mandel bread is made by hand forming dough into loaves and then baking and slicing. Every baker has their own variation of cinnamon, nuts, chocolate and dried fruit toppings. Thank you Wikipedia.
Here is a more traditional recipe from a blog called, The Shiksa in the Kitchen. No, it’s not the shiksa who wote it, but a guest poster who got it straight from her “Bubbie,” aka her Jewish grandma. Looks lovely, doesn’t it?
Then there’s strudel, which according to Wikipedia, is a layered pastry with a sweet filling inside.
A hilariously named blog, What Jew Wanna Eat, has a different strudel recipe (using butter and sour cream whereas mine is dairy free) but their method is similar to mine.
In my admittedly-not-entirely-reliable memory, our grandmother made both mandel bread and strudel. Her mandel was more like biscotti, harder with a nice crunch, and topped with cinnamon and sugar. Strudel was first spread with jam and nuts then rolled up and baked.
So what is my recipe then, mandel or strudel? A melding of the two? Does it matter? No, not really, and since the ladies who could actually clarify things – my mom and grandmother – are no longer around, it’s going to remain a mystery. Most days I call it mandel, in deference to my cousin whose printed out recipe says so. If my mom was alive she’d call it strudel. But no matter. Call it what you like. Here’s my gluten free version.
Ingredients for dough:
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose GF flour
2 1/4 teaspoons of xanthan gum (omit if flour contains it)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of oil (canola or vegetable)
Cinnamon and sugar mix (about half a cup or more depending on your sweet tooth)
Whatever else you want! Jam, nuts, chocolate chips (use dairy free if you need to), more cinnamon & sugar, etc.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a standard baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream sugar and eggs by hand. Add remaining ingredients beginning and ending with dry (basically, alternating between dry ingredients and oil so that is mixes easily). Since the xanthan gum will make it quite elastic-y, I suggest adding that last.
3. Place dough on the parchment lined pan. It will be quite sticky. Place another sheet of parchment on top of the dough and either roll or press with hands to fill the pan.
4. Now, this is where you get to be creative – pick your fillings, and don’t be shy. Jam, nuts, chocolate chips or chunks. Spread out a thin layer of jam, leaving at least an inch along the edges so it doesn’t squish out when you roll it up. If you don’t like jam, skip it and use just cinnamon and sugar instead, throw in chips or nuts if you’d like.
I prefer strawberry jam and almonds with generous amounts of cinnamon and sugar, but you can really do any combo. This time I also added chocolate chunks because I know the way to my husband and daughter’s hearts, er, stomachs. Apricot jam with crumbled walnuts would be great too. I’ve also had success using fig jam. Really, it’s up to you.
5. Rolling – use the parchment paper to help roll the dough because it will be VERY sticky and hard to handle. Start slowly and roll (the long way, to make a longer roll as opposed to a short squat one). Once it is all the way rolled up, wet your fingers and pinch both ends closed so the jam and nutty goodness doesn’t pour out.
6. Bake at 350 checking at 20 minutes to see if a knife runs clean through. (Note, if you use chocolate chips this will make it a bit tricky since they will be gooey. Keep sticking the knife in until it comes out relatively clean).
Hint: For a crunchier bite, cook longer and until knife is completely clean. For a softer bite, cook a little less and the knife may collect a few gooey crumbs.
Let cool completely and then slice. If it starts to crumble when cutting, allow more time to cool. It tastes great regardless, but easier to eat when it doesn’t break as you pick it up. Enjoy for breakfast with coffee or tea, or dessert, or as a meal replacement.
*I found that mine was actually BETTER the next day (after putting it on a plate and covering with plastic wrap). It crumbled a bit when I cut into it the night before, but by morning it stayed together nicely when sliced.
Let me know if you have a family mandel bread or strudel recipe. And if there is any debate on what to call it.
Thank you to One Creative Mommy for inviting me to Gluten Free Monday link up! Check out the other great recipes and tips by clicking the button below.
Thank you to VegetarianMamma.com for inviting me to Gluten Free Fridays recipe link up! Check out the other great recipes by clicking the button below.