My favorite year-end holiday is one that has been almost forgotten: Lost Monday, a celebration on the first Monday after the Epiphany. Technically, it takes place in the New Year, but for me, it was the capstone of the holiday season.
The origins of this celebration are murky, but it likely took hold in the15th century, when the guilds put on an all-day feast for their workers. Since no one worked, it became a “lost day,” or “Verloren Maandag” in Flemish. Centuries later, people in Antwerp still celebrate this day by eating appelbollen en worstenbrood. As a kid, I remember every bakery shop—and there were many on my walk to school— displaying massive stacks of sausage and apple bread, the aroma of cinnamon filling the air. I couldn’t wait to be done with school, knowing my dad would pick some up on his way home from work. They would be heated on the large coal stove in the kitchen. We would get one of each, paired with hot chocolate. After all, any Belgian holiday requires some chocolate.
While a lesser event in the extensive canon of Belgian festivities, it has remained my celebration of choice. So on the second Monday in January, my partner, who’s the baker in our tribe, will bake the most delicious appelbollen. I will savor them, as well as the memories of an old oak table in the dining room of a brick row house, in a faraway country in a different time, where three generations are about to come together and break bread.
--Frank Quadflieg, Director of Marketing
¼ cup almond flour
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup raisins, finely chopped
4 medium apples, peeled and cored
4 puff pastry squares, 6” each
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
3. Place the almond flour, almond extract, 3 tablespoons of sugar, water, melted butter and raisins in a small bowl. Mix with a spoon to make a paste. Set aside.
4. Mix the other tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
5. Place one peeled and cored apple in the center of a 6” puff pastry square. Use a small spoon to scoop the almond paste into the center of the apple until it’s full.
6. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the stuffed apple.
7. Pull each corner of the puff pastry square to the center top of the apple. Pinch the edges together to seal them, then pick up the apple and gently form the pastry around it. Place the apple, folded side down, on the parchment paper.
8. Sprinkle a bit of the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the apple.
9. Repeat Steps 5 – 8 for the remaining apples.
10. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
11. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then dust the top of each apple with powdered sugar.
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