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Crumb Schnecken

For the dough:
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 large eggs
5 tablespoons sugar
14 ounces (about 2 3/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons unsalted European-style butter at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the filling:
2 ounces almond paste
3 tablespoons unsalted European-style butter at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk

For the streusel:
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon rice flour (optional)
Pinch salt
4 tablespoons unsalted European-style butter, melted and lukewarm

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1. Make the dough: Heat milk in a small saucepan until bubbles form around edges. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Pour milk into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over milk, stir and let stand 5 minutes. Crack eggs into mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in sugar and flour with a wooden spoon. Knead ingredients together in bowl until scrappy dough forms. Turn dough onto counter and knead briefly. Turn mixing bowl over dough and rest 20 minutes.
2. While dough rests, place 12 tablespoons butter and salt in a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment and beat until fluffy, pausing once to scrape down bowl, 30 seconds. Set aside.

3. Knead dough until smooth, 5 minutes. Pull into sections and add to mixer bowl with butter. Mix on medium speed until butter is mostly incorporated, scraping down bowl as necessary, about 3 minutes. Transfer dough with a plastic scraper or a spatula to counter. Work by hand, using short, pulling motions, until dough is smooth but still very soft, about 20 minutes. Shape dough into a round and place in a clean mixing bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap. Rise at cool room temperature until spongy, 4 to 5 hours.

4. Sprinkle counter lightly with flour. Press fist into center of dough and deflate gently. Gather dough up and place on floured counter. Sprinkle top of dough lightly with flour and press into rectangle 10 inches wide by 14 inches long. Fold top third of dough down to center and bottom third up to cover it. Pinch edges to seal. Rotate dough on countertop one-quarter turn to the right so that it resembles a closed book. Press and stretch dough into rectangle 6 inches wide by 10 inches long. Repeat stretching and folding until dough resembles closed book 4 inches wide by 6 inches long. Press edges to seal. Sprinkle lightly on both sides with flour, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5. Make the filling: Combine almond paste, butter, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt and extracts in a food processor bowl and process until smooth, pausing once to scrape down bowl, about 1 minute. Add egg yolk and process until smooth. Transfer filling to a small bowl, cover well and refrigerate until 30 minutes before using.

6. Make the streusel: Combine ingredients in a small bowl and fluff with fork until combined. Squeeze streusel between fingers to create pieces of varying size. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

7. Shape the dough: Remove almond filling and dough from refrigerator. Sprinkle counter and top of dough lightly with flour, and whack dough with a rolling pin to flatten it. Roll dough evenly into a 20-inch square. Continue to loosen from counter and roll until dough relaxes, using as little flour as possible.

8. Spread almond filling evenly over dough. Trim edges with a bench scraper or a chef's knife. Roll dough tightly and evenly from bottom, jellyroll-style. You should have a cylinder 18 inches long and about 4 inches in diameter. Transfer jellyroll to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerate 20 minutes.

9. Remove jellyroll from refrigerator and slice into 20 1/2-inch rounds with an electric knife or a sharp serrated knife. Transfer 10 rounds each to 2 111/2 x 17-inch parchment-lined sheet pans. Spray surface lightly with water. Sprinkle generously with streusel, pressing streusel into surface. Cover schnecken lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until light and spongy, about 90 minutes.

10. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400. Place a shallow pan on bottom of oven and pour boiling water into pan. Bake schnecken one sheet pan at a time. After 5 minutes, lower oven to 350 and bake until nicely risen and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes more. While schnecken bake, whisk powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons hot water in a small bowl to make glaze. Remove sheet pan from oven and brush schnecken lightly with glaze. Transfer schnecken to a cooling rack. Bake second sheet pan as you did the first.

Yield: 20 4-inch schnecken.