Tuesday, January 24, 2012

product review: King Arthur Flour Almond Filled Sweet Bread Mix

For Christmas, I was lucky enough to get a bunch of loot from King Arthur Flour in a Yankee Swap gift. Said gift included, among other things, a box of their Almond Filled Sweet Bread mix. Even though we don't eat much bread, I decided to bake up the mix for a treat.

The mix actually comes in several components - there's the actual bread mix, a yeast packet, a powdered filling mix, and a powdered glaze mix. The first thing you have to do is combine the bread mix with some butter, eggs, warm water and the yeast packet. The dough gets kneaded until smooth and then is allowed to rise "until puffy", which the package advises should take about an hour. I'm not sure if maybe my kitchen was just abnormally cold, but I actually let the dough sit for over TWO hours before it finally got "puffy".

The next step was to combine the filling mix with some water to make a paste, and roll the dough out to a large rectangle. The filling gets spread on the rolled-out dough and then the whole thing gets carefully rolled up and shaped into a ring. The bread is allowed to rise again until doubled in size. Again, this seemed to take quite a long time for me, but it could have just been that my kitchen was cold.

The bread got baked for about 30 min at 350. The instructions on the box advised that the bread could be baked in a ring-pan or on a parchment-lined baking sheet. I opted for the baking sheet. The bread baked up beautifully. I let it cool for a while before mixing up the glaze with a little melted butter and milk and spreading it on the bread.

Cutting into the ring of bread, I could see the spiral of almond filling inside. It smelled amazing, and tasted pretty awesome, too. The bread was nice and tender, and the filling had a pleasantly almond-y taste. I will say that the glaze was a little over-sweet for my taste, but I also applied it with a pretty heavy hand.

My only real complaint is that the big round loaf is pretty awkward to cook and store. I wish I'd have just cut the rolled, filled dough into slices and cooked it like cinnamon buns...but it's certainly not King Arthur Flour's fault that I didn't think of that while baking. ;)

All in all, if you really like almond flavor, I'd highly recommend this mix. If you're only kind of so-so on almond, you might not be happy with the finished product, as it is definitely not a subtle flavor. Also, beware that this is not a "quick bread" - there is kneading, rising, rolling - it's fairly labor-intensive, but the end product is well worth it.