Friday, October 8, 2010

Dutch Letters!

I'm following up on a subject from a few months ago--remember the Dutch Bakery in Tipton? The Mennonite-run grocery and bulk foods store? Under the Giant 8-Ball? (How could you forget!)

Well, soon after that post, I got a comment from Michael, who said, "Anyone who reads this, you have, have, have to get a dutch letter. Flaky hand-crafted pastry with a delicious creamy almond filling, baked into, you guessed it, the shape of letters."

I had to admit, with my focus on bulk foods, I hadn't spent a lot of time exploring the Dutch Bakery's bakery. (Now that I write that, I know how silly that sounds.)

Then, another reader, who remains anonymous, reinforced Michael's comments: "Have to agree about the dutch letters. When I lived in Jeff City, I would stop there at least once a month on the way to KC and have been dreaming of them since. I went to the lake with the family this week and was so happy that road work on 52 made us swing through Tipton today. For under $20, I got 5 dutch letters, huge bags of roasted salted soy beans, cheese straws, pasta, and gummy butterflies. The dutch letters are just as good as I remember."

So: "Put it on the List."

(I have a nice big List, by the way.)

So: Recently Sue and I drove to Tipton for breakfast. They offer free coffee at the Dutch Bakery, but--well, we'd brewed up some good-tasting high-class coffee at home and brought it with us in our to-go mug. In part, because we didn't want to wait until we got to Tipton in order to have coffee. (You know how it is.)

We had other stuff to buy there, too. I needed some more oat bran, for instance.

I don't know if this is how they always do it, but they had them on big trays, stacked two or three layers thick, and it was the same five letters: L, o, v, e, and s. (You can buy them as individual letters, but you get a price break if you buy all five).

I'm not sure what the S is for, apart from conjugation or the plural. Maybe the S shape is the most fun to eat, with its sinuous form?

Then again, if the two ends of pastry on the O didn't match up perfectly, you might be able to turn it just right to make it look like a lowercase a, to spell SLave.

But that would be silly. (Hmm: buy ten letters, to spell out Love SLaves--? Hah!)

We took our white paper sack of letters and our mug of coffee to the little roadside park just east of the Dutch Bakery and, sitting at a lichen-dusted picnic table between an oak tree and a little shrine to St. Francis, ate a couple of Dutch letters.

Pretty tasty!

But maybe my expectations were too high; those were some pretty enthusiastic endorsements I'd gotten. But they seemed kind of heavy to me. Terrific, in the sense that they were substantial and satisfied the hungry belly--but although the almond filling was generous, light, and tasty, the pastry enfolding it seemed chewier and harder than I was expecting.

Did they overwork the dough, or over- or undercook it? It seems like it should have been flakier, more like a pie crust. Though perhaps they can't be too flaky, lest they lose structural integrity . . . I don't know.

I appreciate the fact that they were not iced or sugarcoated--they were sweet, but not overly so.

Oh, I'll get them again for sure--maybe these specimens were day-old Dutch letters or something. --But at least I'm not Dutch-letter illiterate anymore.

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