It’s finally getting chilly outside again and I am feeling all of the autumn vibes – I’m even looking forward to Christmas already! The changes in seasons also means a change in my baking. While I’m all about the light, fruity bakes in summer and spring, the colder months have me baking up a storm with warmer flavours (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg) and all kinds of nuts.
There are a few staples to Dutch baking and I’ve talked extensively about my favourite one on this blog: speculaas. For those of you who don’t know; speculaas is a type of cookie or biscuit that is characterised by the spices used to make it, most prominently cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. I’ve got several speculaas recipes on here already, but there are probably more to come this autumn and winter. This one is the first!
Gevuld speculaas is a Dutch classic that is a seasonal favourite with a lot of people. It’s basically a tray bake that consists of two layers of speculaas cookie with a layer of almond paste in between – and it’s absolutely delicious. It does include two ingredients that I believe are typically Dutch (speculaas spice mix and Dutch-style almond paste), but luckily, both of those ingredients are easy to make at home, and I’ve provided a how-to for both of them down below.
I’m starting a new job soon and I’ve already decided to bake a batch of this filled speculaas to take with me on my first day. What better way to get my new colleagues to like me than with a delicious bake?
You’ll need… (for 20 pieces)
For the speculaas dough
- 125 g softened butter
- 125 dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 250 g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons speculaas spice mix*
For the filling
- 300 g almond paste**
- ½ egg
- ½ egg (for the eggwash on top)
- 20 (halved) almonds
- cling film
- parchment paper
- baking tin (mine is 20 x 24 cm)
- rolling pin
- and an oven, of course! This tray bake needs to be baked at 180 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven!)
* Can’t get your hands on speculaas spice mix? Use this instead: 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground ginger.
** Can’t find almond paste in your supermarket? Make your own! Combine 150 g ground almonds or almond meal (the kind that is just almonds, no additional ingredients), 150 g sugar and 1 small egg. That’s it!
So, let’s get baking!
1. Mix butter and sugar together Take a large bowl and mix together the dark brown sugar and the softened butter, using a handheld mixer, a stand mixer or a simple wooden spoon.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients Now, add the milk, flour, salt, baking soda and the spices to the mixture and mix it all together until a nice dough forms. You can do this by using a mixer or simply using your hands.
3. Let the dough rest Knead the dough into a ball and wrap it in cling film. Place it in the fridge and let it rest for at least an hour (you could also let it rest over night). In the meantime, prepare your baking tin by greasing it and then lining it with parchment paper. Make sure the paper comes over the edges so that you can simply lift out the bake after it’s done.
4. Prepare almond paste Take a small bowl and mix your almond paste with half an egg. You do this so it’s a little more malleable and easier to spread out.
5. Roll out dough Take your ball of dough out of the fridge and knead it with your hands for a little while so it becomes a little softer and easier to work with. Flour your work surface and then take half of the dough and roll it out until you’ve got a large enough slab of dough to cover your tin. If the dough breaks while rolling it out, you’ll need to knead it a bit more. Once you’re done, transfer the dough to your prepared tin and make sure it covers the bottom of it. Slice away any extra pieces of dough.
6. Add almond paste and second layer of dough Now, add the almond paste layer. Spread it out over the dough using a spoon or (palette) knife) until it’s evenly divided over the dough layer. Then, roll out your remaining dough and place it on top of the almond paste, gently pressing it down just slightly.
7. Add almonds and eggwash Lightly press the (halved) almonds into the dough in whatever design you like. I placed mine in such a way that there’s an almond in the middle of every piece. Then, take the rest of your egg, beat it, and brush the dough and almonds with it. If you think you might not have enough eggwash, you can always beat through a little bit of milk.
8. Bake! Now, it’s finally time for your speculaas to go into the oven! Bake it for about 35 minutes at 180 °C. Once it’s done, let the speculaas cool inside the tin for a while before lifting it out and transferring it to a cooling rack or a cutting board. Cut it into however many pieces you like when it’s mostly cooled down.
And that’s it! You’ve got your own delicious Dutch filled speculaas – enjoy!