I skipped last month's Daring Baker's Challenge...there was just so much going on...and I have a lot going on this month, too! Getting ready for our wedding on March 9, work, moving, etc. But in the midst of keeping K while D was moonlighting, I was able to do this month's challenge. 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 made this over several days. The dough was actually easy to work with. I had some trouble with the almond paste when I formed the bars...it stuck to the wrap when I tried to transfer it. The flavor was good in the cake and my co-workers enjoyed them.
Recipe Speculaas Spices
Speculaas spices can be bought in a store. But it's more fun to make
your own mixture, so that you can adjust the flavor. Here is a
representative recipe from the extensive Dutch tradition.
cinnamon 40 to 60 % of the total amount
ground cloves 1 or 2 parts
ginger ½ or 1 part
nutmeg 1 or 2 parts
A convenient way to mix the spices is as follows:
Take at least 1 or 2 teaspoons of ground cloves, 1 teaspoon of ginger. 1 or 2 teaspoons of nutmeg.
Measure or weigh the amount of spices you have now, and add an equal amount of cinnamon.
Recipe Almond Paste
As we are going to make stuffed speculaas, we will need almond paste.
You can buy it in a store, but homemade almond paste tastes better.
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
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.
Recipe Speculaas Dough
1¾ cups (250 gm) (9 oz) all purpose (plain) 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
Put flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl. Cut the butter in dices and add. Knead until smooth. Feel free to add a little milk if the dough is too dry. I used food processor. Wrap in clingfoil and put in the refrigerator for two hours. You can choose to make the dough a few days in advance, just like the
almond paste, that will benefit the flavor. Freezing is no problem.
Assembling and baking the Gevulde Speculaas
Grease the pan. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas 4. Divide the dough into two portions.
Roll out both portions on a lightly floured surface, until they are exactly as big as the baking pan. Put one of the layers in the pan and press it lightly to fill the bottom. Roll out the almond paste between two sheets of clingfoil, until it
is exactly as big as the pan, and put it on the dough in the pan. (If
you chose to make the paste soft, you can smear the paste instead of
rolling it.). Press the paste lightly down to fit in the pan. Now put the second layer of dough on top of the paste, press it lightly, and make as smooth as possible. Decorate the pastry with the almonds. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool completely in the pan, then cut it in portions as you like.