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Daring Bakers: Gevulde Speculaas

Sunday, January 27, 2013

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!
Francijn was right – the Gevulde Speculaas was indeed delicious, and fun to put together too. At first, it was daunting to see the number of different spices used in the mix – nine in all! – but when combined, every one of them was essential: cinnamon, cloves, mace, ginger, white pepper, cardamom, coriander, (star) anise, and nutmeg.
I had all the spices in my pantry as many of them are used in curries. While I am not a big fan of cloves, I did not omit them from the mix. After tasting the pastry, I was glad I didn't.
Most of the spices I stock are whole – the only ground ones I have are cinnamon, ginger, white pepper and nutmeg in ground form. I chose to use the whole ones and proceeded to toast them separately, then pound (with a mortar and pestle) each one into a powder, and finally to sift them! That was the most elaborate part of the challenge for me, but I was getting pure spices and didn't mind the extra work.
Here's the recipe in PDF. In it, Francijn writes about the history of Dutch spice trading and the background on this lovely pastry. Malaysia, or Malaya at the time, was of course part of the spice route, and there is a history of the Dutch in this country too. 
Gevulde Speculaas is two layers of dough with another layer of homemade almond paste (pictured right) sandwiched between them. I used ready ground almonds which I get from the baking supply shop over here. The paste also consists of sugar, and lemon zest and the binding agent is an egg. I had read that flax seed paste can be used as a substitute for egg so I toasted and ground flax seeds and mixed the powder with water. After sitting for a while, the mixture has a gel-like consistency. In place of one egg, use 1 tablespoon of whole flax seeds, grind them and then mix with 3 tablespoons of water. The flax seeds give the almond paste a light brown hue, which is perhaps why the middle layer is not so distinct in the pastry.
I only strayed from Francijn's recipe in one respect, and that was to use almonds with their skin on for the decoration on top. I think they taste better after they get toasted in the oven. They are halved to offer some contrast in colour.
After seeing the finished pastry from some of the Daring Bakers on the DB forum (see the pictures in a slideshow at the site), I was keen to try the beautiful patterns made with slivers of almonds, but I knew it would be too much to handle since I only made the gevulde speculaas last night. I started out with a simple arrangement, and then decided to just sprinkle on a whole lot of the halves. More crunch to enjoy!


  1. Your speculaas looks great. Thanks for the tip on substituting flax seed for the egg - it is good to know for the future.

  2. Wow, you used all of the spices in the Speculaas, I only ended up using the 5 first ones mentioned. Now I wish I was a bit more daring! I too loved having the crunch of the almond and wished I had put more on top. Nice job on the challenge!


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