7 Christmas Bakes with Philippa Davis:#7 Polvorones

PUBLISHED: 22:48 17 November 2020

Polvorones make a wonderful Christmas gift wrapped in tissue paper Photo: Philippa Davis

Polvorones make a wonderful Christmas gift wrapped in tissue paper Photo: Philippa Davis

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These soft crumbly oval-shaped almond cookies can be found all over southern Spain around Christmas time

Like many sweet treats from Spain, the recipe for Polvornes can be traced back to the Moors. They were originally made with dairy but during the Spanish inquisition, by official decree, this was replaced with pork fat as a way to identify any Jews or Muslims, who of course could not then eat them. Nowadays they are often made with butter, which I have used for this recipe, and then wrapped in tissue paper before being sold or given as gifts. Expect the dough and final result to be soft and crumbly, ‘polvo’ does after all mean powder in Spanish!

Makes approximately 12

200g plain flour

Polvorones ready for the oven Photo: Philippa DavisPolvorones ready for the oven Photo: Philippa Davis

50g whole blanched almonds

120g soft room temperature salted butter

70g caster sugar

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp Icing sugar, for dusting

Method

1 Preheat oven to 140°C fan/gas mark 3. Spread the flour on a flat tray and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes stirring every ten minutes, you want it to take on a very slight colour. Leave to cool.

2 Lay the almonds flat on another tray and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes stirring once half way through cooking. You want them to take on a slight colour. Leave to cool then blitz to a fine powder.

3 Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, tip in the cinnamon, toasted flour and ground almonds and bring together into a ball. You may need to stop the machine and use your hands for the last bit. Form the dough into a 3cm diameter oval shaped log and wrap in cling film - the dough will be very crumbly so use the clingfilm to help shape it. Chill for 1 hour in the fridge.

4 Pre heat the oven to 170°C fan/gas mark 5 and line a flat tray with baking parchment. Cut the dough into 1 ½ cm disks, place on the tray and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool on the tray (or they will crumble) then dust with icing sugar. These will last a couple of weeks in an airtight container.

My top tips for perfect bakes

- Weigh out all your ingredients before you start mixing, it’s easy to get distracted and forget to put one in.

- When chilling doughs for rolling out at a later stage, form into discs rather than balls as they chill quicker, more evenly and are easier to roll out.

- Even new ovens tend to bake slightly unevenly so I usually swap around the baking sheets half way through cooking.

Philippa Davis is an international private chef and food writer, who when not travelling the world, is in Dorset. Follow her food adventures on Instagram

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