Saturday, January 26, 2013

Daring Bakers - January 2013 - Gevulde Speculaas

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 have never heard of Gevulde Speculaas (stuffed speculaas) before, and I know for a fact that I have never tasted it, so I was curious as to how this adventure would turn out.  Gevulde Speculaas is a traditional Dutch pastry, as Francijn, our host this month, is Dutch.

The speculaas spice mix is quite extensive, as follows:

cinnamon 40 to 60 % of the total amount
ground cloves 1 or 2 parts
mace ½ or 1 part
ginger ½ or 1 part

white pepper ½ or 1 part
cardamom ½ or 1 part
coriander ½ or 1 part
anise ½ or 1 part
nutmeg 1 or 2 parts

I used some of everything, but substituted black pepper for white pepper.  If the mix sounds a little confusing, Francijn helpfully explains how to mix it as follows:

Take at least 1 or 2 teaspoons of ground cloves, ½ or 1 teaspoon of mace and ½ or 1 teaspoon of ginger.

Add to taste ½ or 1 teaspoon of white pepper, ½ or 1 teaspoon of cardamom, ½ or 1 teaspoon of coriander, ½ or 1 teaspoon of anise, and 1 or 2 teaspoons of nutmeg.

Measure or weigh the amount of spices you have now, and add an equal amount of cinnamon.

You have no idea how heavenly these spices smell together - you really should try making the spice mix for the aroma alone.

My first test was to find mace - I had all the other spices already.  I could not track it down in any of the Melbourne supermarkets that I tried, and in the end by a stroke of luck, I remembered the Middle Eastern grocers near my work, which carry a wide variety of spcies.  There I finally tracked down the mace.

The dough and almond paste came together pretty easily (except for the slight spillage of my precious spice mix), and I refrigerated them for a couple of days to develop the flavours, as suggested by Francijn.  I did need to use about a quarter of a cup of milk for my dough to come together.

My next challenge was in assembling the speculaas.  It is summer here hence rather warm inside, and dough and warm weather are not good friends.  The dough wanted to stick to the paper I rolled it on, even when I refrigerated it after rolling, and the almond paste violently resisted being incorporated into the speculaas - in the end, I abandoned rolling it out and smooshed it over the top of the base dough layer.

Despite the less than smooth assembly process, I was pretty happy with the end result:

And another view which shows the almond paste filling better:

My Gevulde Speculaas smelled heavenly in the oven and tasted devine - I was a very happy girl.  The speculaas smelled just like Christmas, and I believe that this speculaas would make a wonderful addition to the Christmas cookie exchange.

Thanks to our host, Francijn, for introducing this Dutch specialty to us.   To see what the other Daring Bakers thought, visit the slideshow on the Daring Kitchen website once it has been loaded.

I have now been a Daring Baker for five years - scary!  My first challenge was Lemon Meringue Pie - you can find my post here.  I seemed to be very excited about it - perhaps it is time to make that pie again.  Much has changed in my life since then, not all for the better, but it's amazing how resilient we are.  What were you doing five years ago?