1/4 cup water
3 large eggs, at room temperature; warm them, in the shell, in hot tap water for 10 minutes if they're cold from the fridge
*If you're using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a large cookie sheet 13 x 18 or use two smaller cookie sheets. You’ll want to allow several inches between each loaf.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the butter, flour, and salt (if you're using it), working the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or fork, your fingers, or a mixer. Mix until everything is crumbly, then stir in the water. The dough will become cohesive, though not smooth.
Divide the dough in half. Wet your hands, and shape each piece of this wet dough into a rough log. Pat the logs into 10" x 3" rectangles on the sheet, leaving at least 4" (but preferably 6") between them, and 2" on each side. These puff up in the oven and you need to leave them room for expansion as they also spread.
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil. Stir until the butter melts, then add the flour (and salt, if you're using it) all at once. Stir the mixture with a spoon till it thickens, begins to steam, and leaves the sides of the pan; this will happen very quickly. Remove from heat.
Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat it at medium speed for 1 minute, just to cool it down a bit.
Add the large eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat until the dough loses its "slimy" look, and each egg is totally absorbed. If using extra large or jumbo eggs, use one less egg.
Mix in the pure almond extract. Don’t like pure almond extract? Try using pure vanilla extract instead.
Divide the batter in half. Spread half the batter over one of the dough strips on the pan, covering it completely about a ¼ inch over the sides of the dough. Repeat with the remaining batter and dough. Smooth it out as best you can.
Bake the pastry for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it's a deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and transfer each pastry to a wire rack.
I cut my pastry into slices and then added my jams because I used a few different jams but you can do the entire loaf following the directions below and then slice.
Spread each warm pastry with about 1/3 cup of jam or preserves. You can use any flavor you prefer. I used homemade blueberry jam, orange marmalade and strawberry jam. Or, how about pepper jelly or apricot jam?
Sprinkle the toasted almonds atop the jam. Don't be surprised to see your beautifully puffed pastries starting to sink. This is what is supposed to happen.
Recipe adapted from here.