Monday, January 28, 2013

Daring Baker's Challenge-Speculaas

I'm kinda lazy at heart.  I signed up for Daring Bakers, knowing I would be baking up a storm, learning new things and challenging myself.  Truth is, I haven't been very good about keeping up with the challenges.  Somehow the month gets away from me, there is some weird ingredient or tool I need and I can't find it in Fairbanks, my month is too busy and I run out of time...I have a million excuses.  So, I committed to doing at least 6 challenges this year and I am happy to say the year got off to a good start with Speculaas.

Daring Bakers challenge this month came from Francijn from Koken in de Brouwerij.  Speculaas are a spicy cookie with an almond paste center.  Don't let the long list of directions scare you.  It isn't as hard as I thought it would be and I just did each part on a different day.  The directions are from Francijn, with notes from me.

I started with the spice mix one day, labeled it and put it in the cabinet.

A convenient way to mix the spices is 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.

Then I made the almond paste.  My food processor made short work of this.  I kept it in the fridge for a couple of days.  It is supposed to improve the taste to let it sit a day or two.

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 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.
Then, on a day off work, I made the cookie dough and put it all together.
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.
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
speculaas dough
almond paste
whole almonds without skins for decoration
1 large egg
shallow baking pan, 8x10 inch (20x26 cm) or, round with of diameter 10 inch (26 cm)
1. Grease the pan.
2. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas 4
3. Divide the dough into two portions.
4. Roll out both portions on a lightly floured surface, until they are exactly as big as the baking pan.
5. Put one of the layers in the pan and press it lightly to fill the bottom.
6. Lightly beat the egg with a teaspoon cold water.
7. Smear 1/3 of the egg over the dough in the pan.
8. 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.)
9. Press the paste lightly down to fit in the pan, and smear the next 1/3 of the egg over it.
10. Now put the second layer of dough on top of the paste, press it lightly, and make as smooth as possible.
11. Smear the last 1/3 of the egg over the dough.
12. Decorate the pastry with the almonds.
13. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven.
14. Let cool completely in the pan, then cut it in portions as you like.
The house smelled wonderful as the cookies bake and the cookies are delicious with a cup of tea or coffee.  I'll be making these again.  They are on the "favorite" list.
January 28, 2013    Daylight 6 hours, 33 minutes, 6 seconds    Temp. H -24 /L -45 °F


  1. I love the way you arranged your almonds on top! And, don't worry about being a lazy Daring Baker, there are plenty of us out there. It is amazing how the month can just fly by before I've even had the time to think about making a challenge! I really liked this recipe too. Definitely a favorite.


Please leave a comment or share an idea. Hearing from you really brightens my day.