Many cultures and cuisines have their own version of this crisp bread that is eaten as a cookie. Dotty Fuchsman says her husband's is "world famous" because they have taken it to England and Israel.
The mandel bread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks; the Fuchsmans prefer to wrap it well and freeze it for up to 2 months.
Yield: loaves (16 to 25 slices per loaf)
- 1 cup canola oil, plus more for greasing the baking sheets (optional)
- 5 cups bread flour
- 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup whole raw unsalted almonds, cut into 3 pieces per nut
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
- 5 large egg whites, plus 1 whole egg
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup water
- Juice of 1 medium lemon or lime (2 to 3 tablespoons)
- Cinnamon-sugar mixture, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet with canola oil or nonstick cooking oil spray.
Combine the bread flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, almonds and dried cranberries or raisins in a large bowl.
Combine the egg whites, egg and oil in a separate bowl; blend well. Add the almond and vanilla extracts, water and citrus juice. Add to the bowl of dry ingredients; mix and knead the dough until it achieves the consistency of putty. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and form them into bars on the baking sheet, roughly 3 inches by 12 inches by 3/4 inches thick, spaced apart so they do not touch. Bake for about 20 minutes, then transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes; the bars will be warm and slightly set.
Meanwhile, position an oven rack 4 to 5 inches from the top broiling element and preheat the broiler. Have ready 2 large, same-size baking sheets.
Use a very sharp knife to cut the bars into 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch slices; there should be about 16 to 25 slices per bar. Working in batches, lay the bars flat on a baking sheet (about 36 should fit snugly on 1 sheet) and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Toast under the broiler for 5 to 8 minutes or until the edges are brown and the sugar has melted. Remove from the oven and carefully place a second baking sheet on top of the toasted slices. Use oven mitts to hold the sheets together and carefully flip over; remove the top baking sheet so that the untoasted second sides of the slices are exposed. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture and return to broil for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the slices to a wire rack to cool thoroughly; the slices should be crisp.
From Annandale resident Al Fuchsman.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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