Francijn of Koken in de Brouwerij was our January 2013 Daring Bakers’ Hostess and she challenged us to make the traditional Dutch pastry, Gevulde Speculaas from scratch! That includes making our own spice mix, almond paste and dough! Delicious!
I'm super excited about this month's challenge! I have been wanting to make speculaas (cookies) for an eternity, but I keep forgetting to buy a mold. The blend of spices used in these pastries is intoxicating: cinnamon, cloves, mace, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and a touch of white pepper. Spicy, spicy, spicy! And this recipe doesn't require the mold. Actually, all along I thought "speculaas" described the cookie, but it actually describes the blend of spices used in the cookie, as well as other desserts like this one!
|The spice blend: cinnamon, cloves, mace, ginger, cardamom and white pepper|
Although the heritage of these times are still noticeable in many Dutch cities to this day, the wealth must be considered in light of the war, violence and oppressive forces used to defend the trade. After World War II, Dutch India became independent from the Netherlands and the spice trade (along with tobacco, opium, sugar and tea) no longer contributed to their economy.
I chose to make the spice mixture myself, both because I had the individual spices and because I wanted to be able to adjust the mix to my own preferences. My mixture contains cinnamon, cloves, mace, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and white pepper.
7/8 cup (210 ml)(125 gm)(4½ oz) raw almonds (or 1-1/3 cups (320 ml)(125 gm) (4½ oz) ground almonds)
5/8 cup (150 ml) (125 grams) (4½ oz) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) lemon zest
If the raw almonds still have their brown skins, remove them as follows. Bring water to a boil, add the almonds, cook them for one minute, drain immediately and let cool for a few minutes. Rub them between your fingers to remove the skins.
Grind the almonds for one or two minutes in a food processor, until you see nothing but very small pieces. (Or skip this step if you use ground almonds.) Add the sugar, and grind for another one or two minutes. It must be very fine after this step. Add the egg and let the food processor combine it - if it is powerful enough. Otherwise you will have to combine it with your fingers. Store the almond paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Although the flavor gets better as days pass by, it is not wise to store the paste for too long, as it contains a raw egg. For the same reason you should not eat the paste unbaked.
I had leftover frangipane, which is a softer, creamier almond paste, made with the above ingredients, as well as some butter and a touch of flour. I decided to use this instead of the almond paste.
1¾ cups (250 gm) (9 oz) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
¾ cup (150 grams) (5-1/3 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
a pinch salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) speculaas spices
3/4 cup (1½ stick) (175 gm) (6 oz) unsalted butter
To make the dough, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl. (I used my food processor.) Cut the butter in dices and add. Knead until smooth. (I pulsed the butter into the mixture and, since I didn't have quite enough, I did add a little milk to moisten the dough.) Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for two hours.
Once the dough is chilled, cut it in half and roll each half to fit your pan (either an 8" x 10" pan or a 10" round pan). Whisk one egg as an egg wash. Spray the pan and fit the first half into it, pressing in with your fingers. Smear 1/3 of the egg on top, then spread the almond paste on top. Smear another 1/3 of the egg on top, then cover with the 2nd half of your dough. Smear the final 1/3 of the egg on top and decorate with raw almonds if you'd like. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.
|The "ready-to-bake" gevulde speculaas|
I brought the gevulde speculaas to a friend's house for dessert, but it was also amazing with coffee the next morning. This is a keeper for sure...