Sunday, January 27, 2013

Daring to do it: 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 love to bake from scratch.  So much these days is premade and done for us, I love taking the time (and, really, it usually isn't that much extra time...!) to make things myself.  Francijn's challenge was great for this.  I mean, make your own spice mix?  Cool!  Make your own almond paste? Ummm...  awesome in theory.  But I have a kiddo under the age of two who might be allergic to almonds (the skin test said yes, though a found and sucked on almond showed no reaction.  Who knows.).  But this was not going to deter me.
First things first, I actually didn't know what speculaas was.  I had heard of it, and thought it was some kind of cookie, but beyond that I had no clue.  As it turns out, it seems speculaas had a lot more to do with the spices than I thought.  One of the main spices we had to use was mace.  I have a lot of spices.  Mace is not one of them.  And for the first week or two it looked like I was going to have to use something different, since no one else I knew had it either.  Then, while at a friend's house for dinner, I snooped in their spices and found it.  (I love having friends who don't question me snooping in their spices!)  Mace in hand,it was time to spice it up.  Two of the other main components of the spice mix are cardamom and cloves.  Which I have. Whole.  Not ground.  So they got toasted:
Then they got ground and sifted:
Spices ready, it was time to make the dough.  Dry ingredients put together:
Then margarine was added and kneading began.  This dough is very much like a shortbread, and is very crumbly.  I was pretty sure I was going to have to add some liquid to get it to come together the right way.  Just as I was getting ready to contemplate actually doing that it was time for the girls to go for their naps.  As it turned out, those ten minutes of resting were all that was needed to get the dough to knead together!

While the dough rested in the fridge I searched for a replacement for almond meal.   I found a recipe for mock marzipan that I thought might work.  Powdered sugar, shortening and not a whole lot else:
Yet again, really crumbly.  This time I had to add liquid if I wanted it to work.  A few splashes of vanilla soy milk did the trick:
I was a little nervous, though. This "marzipan" really was more of a decorative thing.  You know, for covering cakes and stuff.  I was worried it might dissolve when baked.  But I was willing to try.
Assembling the dish wasn't too hard.  Roll out the dough:
 Brush with egg wash.  Except I didn't want to use egg wash.  Because I wasn't using almond paste, I wanted to add something with some more flavor.  So I brushed with watered-down strawberry jelly:
Then the rolled out "marzipan.  More jelly-wash, then the rest of the dough.  More jelly wash.  Then decorations.  Traditionally it should have been more almonds. Again, not using them...  So I used colored sugar crystals:
Baked beautifully.  Smelled AMAZING.  Cut up:
It worked!  True, the filling doesn't stand out as much as almond paste would have, but it worked!
This was so good.  Even my die-hard-chocolate-loving husband loved it.  Success!
Thank you, Francijn, for introducing me to speculaas.  I really learned a lot, and I had a blast playing with the recipe! 
Take a look here to see what my fellow Daring Bakers made this month.  I promise, you will be glad you did!


  1. I had trouble finding mace too. I like your inventive substitution for the almond meal and the end result looks gorgeous.

  2. Very nice! That spice mixture was a treat, wasn't it.

    Very creative to find a replacement for the marzipan!