This year would not be complete without at least a few batches of mandel bread.
We never had a huge holiday cookie bake-fest growing up but there were definitely a few treats that always seemed to be floating around this time of year.
Mandel bread was a tradition with my mom’s side of the family and molasses cookies were from my dad’s family. He still makes them every year and ships them all over the country to our family. And my uncle and aunt usually have a big mandel baking day once a year as well.
I have such vivid memories from these days, as I’m sure many of you can relate to, and love trying to keep the tradition going in my own kitchen.
I wanted to get a little fancier than the standard plain flavor this year, so of course my mind immediately wandered to pumpkin spice.
With just a little pumpkin puree but a lot of spice I was thrilled with how these turned out.
If you’ve never had mandel bread, it is similar to biscotti. But in my opinion, better!
They look unassuming but are quite addicting.
Crunchy, spiced, and slightly sweet.
Pumpkin Spice Mandel Bread [yields 48-60 pieces] adapted from gluten free mandel bread
- 2 1/2 gluten free oat flour
- 6 tablespoons sweet rice flour
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons almond meal
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup pure cane sugar
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon all spice
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon clove
- 3/4c chopped walnuts
- Preheat your oven to 350*F and grease [or line with parchment] 2-3 cookie sheets.
- Sift the oat flour + sweet rice flour together in a bowl, then stir in the almond meal. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir the eggs together with a large wooden spoon.
- Stir in the sugar.
- Stir in the oil + pumpkin puree.
- Stir in the vanilla.
- Stir in the baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, all spice, nutmeg, and clove.
- Add about 3/4 of the flour mixture and stir until just combined, then add more as needed to thicken the dough. The texture should be spreadable with a knife, so it can be formed into a large oval on the pan. Not as thick as chocolate chip cookie dough, but not pourable. You will most likely use all of the flour.
- Gently fold in the walnuts, then portion out into 3 equal piles of dough on the baking sheets.
- Shape the dough into an oval, with a knife or spatula, approximately 1/2” thick, 5-6” wide, and about 8-9” long. Leave about 2-3” spacing.
- Bake for about 30min, until the edges are golden brown. The middle will feel slightly soft to the touch.
- Carefully [hot!] slice down the center, and then make perpendicular cuts about 1-1.5” wide. They will quite be fragile at this point.
- Turn up on their sides and bake for 5 minutes.
- Let rest for 5min, then transfer to a cooling rack until fully cooled and hardened.
notes: For high altitude, set your oven to 365*F and use 1 1/4t baking powder. These freeze extremely well [for months] loose in freezer bags. If you leave out the walnuts you may need to add 1T extra oat flour, since the walnuts soak up some of the moisture. If your dough is not thick enough, add 1T more oat flour at a time, stirring gently.
For the entire afternoon my kitchen smelled like home. It was warm and comforting. And even though I baked all alone, it reminded me of the memories I hold so close + cherish most about this time of year.