It’s time for Daring Bakers for this month’s challenge and a time to learn challenging and unseen things. Things I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing as a home baker. Every time a new intriguing recipe from the other corner of the world is waiting for you test your courage and challenge you to go that extra mile. And it not just gives you a chance to validate yourself but also motivates you to learn the new culture and and traditions. And what else could be better than food to learn about a culture and tradition.
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 resorted to the original recipe which Francijn mentioned in her challenge post, considering that must be the traditional and authentic recipe of the spicy aromatic holiday theme pastry. So as she suggested, I made my speculaas spice mix and the almond paste from scratch. And then knead the pastry dough a day in advance in order to develop the flavor of spice mix throughout the pastry. Although, I reduced butter a bit, but I think that didn’t really make much of a difference in the texture and I happily could cut down on some of the extra fat.
Speculaas Spice Mix (Yields 2 tbsp)
1 tbsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp dried ginger powder
1/2 tsp mace powder
1/2 tsp clove powder
1 tsp nutmeg powder
125 gm almonds (skin removed)
125 gm granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
250 gm plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp speculaas spice
a pinch of salt
120 gm cold unsalted butter
5-6 tbsp cold milk
- Mix all the spices for spice mix and keep aside.
- For almond paste, grind the almonds in a food processor with sugar to fine powder.
- Add egg and lemon zest to the almond and sugar and mix well to make a paste.
- For the dough, mix the baking powder, salt, sugar, spices and flour in a bowl.
- Add the butter to flour cut into small cubes and rub the butter with flour using your finger tips, until it starts to resemble like bread crumbs.
- Add milk 1 tbsp at a time to combine all the ingredients and bring them together to make a ball. Add more milk, only if required.
- Divide the mixture into 2 portions, one being slightly bigger than other. Wrap with cling film and let it rest in fridge from 1 hour to 1 day.
- While ready to bake, preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius and butter a square or rectangular tart pan.
- Roll the bigger half of the pastry and line it inside the tart pan. Fill the tart with almond paste.
- Roll out another half of the pastry and cover the top of almond paste and seal the edges completely, trimming the excess dough. Don’t worry, if you are left with some open spaces at the edges or corners, you could patch them up with the trimmings.
- Apply an egg wash over the top of the pastry and sprinkle some slivered almonds, if you like and bake for 35-40 minutes.
- Let cool completely in the pan and cut into desired shapes.