Banket or letterbanket is a sweet pastry that originated in the Netherlands and is popular in the Christmas season, especially on Saint Nicholas’ eve, 5 December.
Banket is made by rolling pastry dough around an almond paste filling and then baking it. The log is then cut into short lengths for serving, hot or cold. It can also be frozen and enjoyed after the holiday season.
The term letterbanket or banket letter refers to the tradition of bending the uncooked logs into the shape of letters. The baked letters would then be used to spell out messages such as Merry Christmas on a holiday feast banquet table.
- 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup ice water
- 220 g almond paste
- 1 egg yolk stirred together with 1 tablespoon of water
- Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut butter into flour. Add ice water gradually, mixing well. Refrigerate to chill thoroughly.
- Combine egg, sugar, and almond paste; refrigerate to chill.
- Preheat oven to 205°C.
- Divide dough into four portions. Onto a lightly floured board, roll each portion into a 30 x 10cm rectangle.
- On a lightly floured cloth, turn out almond mixture and shape into four rolls about 28cm long.
- Place one roll of almond mixture on each pastry rectangle.
- Brush one long edge with water; roll pastry around filling, rolling toward wet edge.
- Place rolls, seam side down, on ungreased baking sheets.
- Prick with fork and brush with diluted egg yolk, if desired.
- Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C and bake 20 minutes longer.
- When rolls are cool, cut into 12mm slices.