Flo Braker’s Pain d’amande Cookie Recipe

(Because of the terrific feedback many of you had from her pain d’épices recipe, I invited Flo Braker to do a guest post, and she graciously accepted, presenting my all-time favorite cookie of hers…)

pain d'amande

This traditional Belgian cookie, known as almond bread (pain d’amande), is a favorite from my catering baking business in the early 1970s. The raw sugar’s light golden color and distinctly old-fashioned flavor, similar to that of turbinado-style sugar, gives this cookie its unique taste, texture, and appearance.


A slow baking develops a crispy texture and toasty flavor. Though the dough is pale in color, it becomes honey-colored and delicious when baked.

pain d'amande

The recipe went through many trials before I perfected the proportions of the ingredients that would produce the texture and flavor of what I had sampled in Europe. My family got used to seeing these ingredients sitting out on the kitchen counter at the ready for another go-at-it whenever time permitted.

Of all the recipes I’ve developed, this one takes the cake: I felt compelled to test and retest the slightest differences in the amounts of raw sugar and flour. Once I was pleased with the formula it turned out to be very simple to prepare and bake.

sliced cookies pain d'amande

Serendipity also has a role in my tale. After the recipe was published in Sweet Miniatures, David – who worked in the pastry department at Chez Panisse made the Pain d’Amande cookies for the restaurant where they were very well received. Now we have come full circle, and here I am on David’s awesome website with my signature cookie.

melting sugar and butter

Pain d’amande
80-90 cookies

Adapted from Sweet Miniatures by Flo Braker

I love anything super-crisp so naturally, this is one of my all-time favorite cookies. They go with anything, from a bowl of ice cream to a steaming cup of coffee.

Be sure to bake them on parchment paper since if you use a silicone mat, they won’t get as crispy. And the other tip is not to let the sugar melt in the butter; the big crystals add a wonderful crunch to these delightfully-delicious cookies. -David

  • 8 tablespoons (115g) butter, salted or unsalted, cubed
  • 1 1/3 cups (300g) coarse crystal golden sugar (see Note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) water
  • 2 1/3 cups (325g) flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (85g) sliced almonds, blanched or unblanched

1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat with the sugar, cinnamon, and water. Stir until the butter just melts but don’t allow to boil: most of the sugar should not be dissolved.

2. Remove from heat and stir in the flour, baking soda, and almonds until well mixed.

3. Line a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan with plastic wrap and press the dough into the pan so the top is smooth. Chill until firm.

4. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325º (160ºC.)

5. Using a very sharp chef’s knife, slice the dough crosswise, as thin as possible, into rectangles. If you can get them as thin as a coin, all the better. The thinner they are, the more delicate and crisp they’ll be.

6. Space the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies feel slightly firm and the undersides are golden brown. Flip the cookies over and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cookies are crisp and deep golden-brown on top. The baking times depend on how thin you cut the cookies.

Cool completely, then store in an airtight bin until ready to serve.

Storage: Once baked, the cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to three days. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days, or frozen for up to two months, if well-wrapped.

Note: Large-crystal golden sugar, as shown, is available in specialty food stores, natural food stores, or online.

Depending on where you live, Hawaiian Washed Sugar from C & H, is available in grocery stores.

Thanks to Flo for her lovely story and recipe. You can visit Flo Braker at her website, as well as her recipe for Pain d’épices, from her newest book, Baking for All Occasions.

bakingforalloccasions.jpg

62 comments

  • Hey David,
    I know my eyes are going bad, but baking soda is listed in the directions, but not the ingredient list. Is it supposed to be?
    These look great I want to make them soon!

  • That looks absolutely amazing. Now I know what I’m making tomorrow. And I love that you can freeze the dough and have fresh baked cookies any time you want.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Here in the UK we have demerara sugar – large very square crystals. Would this be suitable do you think?

  • OOps! should have clicked on the link first… so to answer my own question, it would seem that is yes!

  • rachel: Yikes, you’re fast! I just published it and was reading it through to edit it. So it’s in there now : )

    Lynne: As long as the crystals are dry and large, it should be fine. I know there are different types of demerara (or at least I think there are…) so I included a picture to show the sugar that I used so folks could find a similar one.

  • These look delish. I love baking with almonds. Something magical about bitterness and sweetness together. Metaphor for life in there somewhere…

  • Almond Thins, my favourite sort of biscuit! Nomnomnomnom…. but I don’t think I could make them as beautifully as your picture shows, though, alas…..

  • Dear Flo,
    Thank you for never steering me wrong.
    Sincerely,
    Barbra

  • Oh oh oh…I’d forgotten all about these–but not how much I love them. Off to search the pantry for that package of sugar…

  • How serendipitous for me too! I’m a fan of Sweet Miniatures and love these cookies and was already planning on making these this next weekend. They are similar to the Jules Destrooper version available commercially that I adore and snap up every time I find them at a grocer.
    Thanks Flo and David!

  • Oh these seem familiar to me…perhaps my mother used to make them when I was growing up? I must bake them and see!

  • If your profile is crispy-cookie-lover (versus soft-cookie-lover), these are the best! I love them!

  • I’ve been making these since I bought Flo’s book about 4 years ago and they are a classic at all times of year. I especially love to make them and keep the logs in the freezer to bake small amounts of them as needed as they are the perfect accompaniment to a simple bowl or ice cream or sorbet. They have saved me for last minute dessert preparations with they lovely light flavour and distinctive crunch. In fact its that crunch that makes them a great snack.

  • These look wonderful! I am in a baking mood and think I may have to make these.

  • I can’t wait to try these! So would those of us baking in France just use cassonade for the sugar?

  • Hi David. Love this recipe and cannot wait to try it. I am thinking vanilla ice cream, homemade caramel and these cookies. Mmmmmmm….

    So I just pre ordered your book on Amazon and am hoping to hear soon about a big book release party for all your faithful followers living in Paris.

  • Those cookies look absolutely awesome! I can’t wait to try them ;)

  • Flo and David,
    Thanks for sharing one of my favorite cookie recipes on your blog!
    I will get right to it!
    Stacey Snacks

  • Oh, look at that–Sweet Miniatures is right next to The Perfect Scoop on my “favorites” shelf–the one where all the books are batter-spattered and well loved. Nevermind that it is 48 degrees and raining here in Portland, I think ice cream and cookies are the order of the day! Thanks for sharing your awesomeness with the rest of us!

  • Wow, I really need to check out one of Flo’s cookbooks…these sound amazing! I just picked up the last of what I need to make her Pain d’épices, and I can’t wait to taste it and then make these!

    Thanks for the inspiration :)

  • Uh-oh, more delicious sweets? Where will the wonders stop… David, did you ever ask her about the orphanage idea? I think she’d go for it, definitely.
    On a serious note, could the almonds be toasted or would that change the flavor too much?

  • I used to bake these during my internship at Chez Panisse! I didn’t know they came from Flo. It makes sense, they were awesome!

    Nice to see them again.

  • Hi! Flo & David,

    A month ago, I just bought Flo’s Baking for All Occasion and so far I’m loving it.
    so far I have only tried 1 recipe the Buttery Rosette Cookies and my family loves it! Its soft, buttery and yummy. I even blogged about it to share my experience in making these cookies. So now I don’t know which one to do next!!! So many must tries can’t decide which one should I try next. Now I have the answer! I’ll try these next. Question though: Can I use muscovado instead of demerara? I have a pack of muscovado and I dunno what to do with it.

    Hey! David,
    How come I don’t see your books here in Manila, Philippines? Are they already out of print? I’ve been inquiring about it at our 3 local bookstores they keep telling me no stock…uuuuwwww…so sad. Its a good thing Perfect Scoop is available in google books got a peek there. as far as I have seen it’s awesome! I tried the Malt milk ice cream, will be updating my blog about it. do you have any idea how to avoid the hardening of the malted milk powder? My solidifies so when I made that ice cream, I created A LOT of mess…

  • Awesome! These kind of remind me of the Jan Hagel in their look and flavoring…but these look even better. I want to get to know this cookie! Thank you David and Flo!

  • Dear Flo and David,

    Thanks so much for the great posts. May I seize this opportunity to ask something about the recipes in Baking For All Occasions? It’s truly a great book!

    I found that when I measure my flour by volume, the weight is significantly more than the weight specified in the book. I get about 150g for a cup of plain flour for instance. Should I rely on the weight or the volume indications? I know Flo wrote that we should use weight whenever possible but since the discrepancies in my case are obvious, I wonder what I should do…

    Thanks so much!

  • Tami: Yes, having a block of these cookies in the freezer is excellent insurance if you need a last-minute treat. Plus these cookies do with everything!

    Abra: I used free-flowing cassonade, as shown in the photo. You can usually get it at any supermarket in the sugar/baking section.

    SimplePleasure: A bookstore should be able to order any book that’s in print. I don’t have anything to do with book distribution and am not sure what is available in other countries. Amazon does ship overseas, I believe, as well.

    Henry: I use 140g flour per cup of sugar, although as you wrote, different people use different conversions depending on how you measure it. When baking from American cookbooks, I always use the volume measurement (ie: 1 cup…) since that’s usually how the recipe was originally conceived.

    Chocolate & Toast: Isn’t Sweet Miniatures great? Flo loves mini things and I think that book is charming. Try the Florentines. I used to make those all the time at Chez Panisse and everyone loved them, too.

  • These cookies look wonderful! Will they last a bit before going stale and are they good for shipping (or will they fall apart into a million pieces)? Every week I try out a new recipe on my staff at work. I take a basic recipe and “make it my own” with a tweak here and there in prep for the next contest I will enter (and because I am a big fan of the “science” of baking and seeing what I can get away with!) One of my staff is on her way to Afghanistan for the next year or so. I want to send her and the folks there some cookies, etc. It will take about three weeks to arrive. Would these work? They look so scrumptous!

  • Ooooppps! Sorry, now I see on the recipe, they will only last three days. Too bad. They look wonderful and I think they would have really enjoyed them.

  • Dear David,

    Can I use roasted almond slices instead of blanched almonds?
    I usually buy my sliced almonds in bulk then roast them since they are mostly used for decorating cakes(or for my snack :p).

  • Semine and JepH: I’ve not used toasted almonds since usually that’s an extra step, but if you have some you want to use, they might work fine. If you do try them, let us know how they work out.

  • David – Have you ever tried slivered almonds instead of sliced? They are a little thicker, though overall smaller pieces. It’s all I have at the moment, so I guess I’ll try it. Maybe I should chop them up a bit? Thanks, Pam in SF

  • I’m eager to try them, but I live in Paris and I’m not familiar with the various kinds of flour yet. What number do you recommend?

  • Lisa: I used type 65. You can read more tips at my post American Baking in Paris.

  • Have you tried them with bakers ammonium? I read that was supposed to make cookies ultra crispy.

  • Crispy cookies are my favorite little treat. Thanks for sharing this classic recipe!

  • Tried the toasted almonds. Really nice, almond-y taste, though not sure if they were more almond-tasting than the original recipe. But the crispy-crunch is what made them absolutely wonderful.
    Great recipe! Thanks, David and Flo. :]

  • what’s the difference between slivered almonds and sliced almonds?

  • I love that she re-worked this recipe over and over. I have a muffin recipe like that. I just keep working on it and working on it and I can’t seem to get it perfect……yet. I love almonds and will definitely try this one.

  • These look delicious!!!

  • Re slivered vs. sliced question – in the grocery stores I frequent, at least, slivered almonds are long, sort of square-diameter pieces of almond, maybe 1/2 long and 1-2 mm wide (in both directions). Sorry my math description skills are poor. Sliced almonds are super thin slices of almond, cut lengthwise from top to bottom in very thin slices, kind of like these cookies are cut. The slivers, though technically smaller, are chunkier. Anyway, I used them and the cookies turned out fine.

  • I love love love this recipe & these cookies.
    The scent of them baking in the oven is enough to both subdue and olfactorally hypnotize me.
    Using the best, most fresh cinnamon you can acquire is worth it.

    But as a baking professional I would like to pass on a most helpful hint for helping this batter, these little almond breads of ecstasy, become what they are meant to be~

    Sandwich batter between two layers of parchment and ‘sheet’ / roll it between them with a rolling pin. Freeze when you have desired thickness. When you’re oven is preheated and your pan is prepped, work quickly, as dough is as delicate as attempting to bake a wet tissue, take out parchment sandwiched cookie sheet and pull off top layer parchment. Cut cookies with knife or cookie cutter shapes and get them in the oven (lift them off parchment with a spatula) as quickly as possible.

    I found, {even working in professional kitchens with plenty of sharp knives to go around,} few people can slice from a bar of frozen pain d’amande evenly. And evenly sliced cookies make such a better texture uniformity.

    Savoury chef hint: meat slicer.

  • Ahhh… Thanks! Pam now I know. I always thought they are the same because when I buy almonds I often say slivered or slice and they give me the same kind.

    I’ll surely bookmark this recipe

  • David, are these anything like those Jules Destrooper almond thins? they’re a personal favorite and I’ve been looking for a recipe that replicates them. They’re also Belgian so it seems like it might be a similar cookie.

  • Thanks very much for this- I adore almonds, and had these in Belgium last summer. Had no idea exactly how they were made however, until now.

  • Thanks so much for this. I made these a few months ago from a Chez Panisse recipe which was sorely lacking in detail. David, you are such a great resource. I looked up the cookie online and found that you had posted about it (with much greater detail) and with a lovely story as well!

    Thanks to Shuna too. I have to agree that I had a LOT of trouble slicing the cookies. The ones that were thin were crisp, but the ones that were a bit thicker were more like rock hard.

  • Sweet Miniatures was my go-to resources for catering and banquets. Just love it! And I loved these cookies, making them, eating them, and seeing others enjoy them. I roll and cut mine too, but that’s because I am not the best at cutting uniform slices from logs of cookie dough.
    Thank you David and Flo!

  • My mom made these last weekend and they rock.
    Thanks David!

  • I made these, got them thin enough, and the taste is fantastic but – they really stuck to my parchment paper. Was I supposed to spray or butter it?

    I was able to carefully chip/wedge them off with a thin spatula, but I’d be interested to know if this is the norm, or if my parchment paper is underachieving!

    Many thanks.

  • Ohiogirl: I didn’t grease the parchment paper and they came off very easily. I’ve been making these for decades (literally!) and never had a problem. I know that my macaron recipe, which works great everywhere, sticks to French parchment paper, so perhaps it has something to do with the brand you’re using.

    You could use silicone liners, but the cooking time will need to be increased, to ensure crispness.

  • Look delicious!!! Definitely going to try this when I have the time…..

  • David,

    Thanks for the info! I use parchment paper I purchased at a latino/spanish store so, I’m off to buy a name brand paper and see if that makes a difference.

    The cookies are excellent, BTW and as you slice them so thinly one “loaf” gives you heaps of cookies!

  • David – you rock!

    You were absolutely right, it WAS the paper. I did the rest of the batch on a new brand of paper – and no problems at all. I now have a new favorite cookie recipe!

    Many many thanks for your wesite and followup – you are a treasure.

  • hmmm this looks like just the type of cookies i love! i love anything light, crispy, and almond-ish! my fav. other cookie for example is cat’s tongue/langue du chat =D will try it soon!

  • Oh my…I just made the dough for this and…oh my…I can’t stop eating it! I’m only baking a few off today, I’ll freeze the rest. Absolutely delicious. I subbed vanilla for cinnamon.

  • David / Flo

    What a great recipe! So easy to make & delicious.

    Since I found this recipe we constantly have them in stock. They are a part of our evening backgammon & coffee ritual (including their theft by the kids), and have been gifted to all and sundry. Thanks.

  • je les ai essayé et j’ai adoré!!!! merci du partage ce fut mémorable avec un bon petit café!!

  • Thanks for the recipe. Simple, clean and delicious. I would prefer them to be a little less “sugary” so is it possible to reduce the sugar content? I will try that next time. Also, have you tried other nuts like hazelnut, or may be even pistachios?
    Elie

  • You mention that this recipe is similar to the Pain d’epices recipe in Flo Braker’s Baking For All Occasions book but it isn’t. Her Pain d’epices recipe is more of a quick bread using rye flour. The recipe that is most similar to yours is called “Brown Sugar-Almond Slices” in her book. Thanks.

  • MPT: I don’t see where I mention that this recipe is similar to her pain d’épices recipe. Please advise where you see that as I can’t find it.

  • Santa loved these cookies, the plate was clean…

  • Made these just as instructed… so easy and delicious. They keep very well wrapped and refrigerated, I made a batch for Christmas and saved some for myself (the recipe is generous) just had some with tea! For a more uniform rectange shape like the picture a true straight sided loaf pan is needed, mine has a very slight flare.

  • Hi David

    This is a language rather than baking question. Should ‘almond cookies’ and ‘almond cookie’ translate into pain d’amande, pain d’amandes, pains d’amandes or pains d’amande? :-)

    Thanks!