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!

In the sunny (and sometimes torrentially rainy) reaches of far North Queensland we don’t often (read never!) get to see and taste good,traditional Dutch pastries, so when Francijn of Koken in de Brouwerij challenge us to one of her countrys’ traditional pastries I was thrilled.
I had seen recipes for speculaas – that is speculass cookies – a spiced Dutch Christmas Cookie but this word “Gevulde” I didn’t understand until I read further into the challenge. “Gevulde” means “stuffed” so the “specualaas” is “stuffed” with almonds paste. This has got to be good!
Francijn challenged us to make everything from scratch, that is to say, the speculaas spices, the almond paste and then the speculaas dough using the specially mixed speculass spices. Francijn recommended we smell each spice and use according to our taste.
The speculaas spice is made up of a number of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, white pepper, coriander, ginger. Also mace and anice which I had never used and couldn’t purchase in my local supermarket. I did track these spices down in a local speciality food store and set about mixing my spices. Mmmm, this spices mix is very good!
Here’s what I did:-
Take 1 teaspoon of ground cloves, ½ teaspoon of mace and ½ teaspoon of ginger.
Add to taste ½  teaspoon of white pepper, 1 teaspoon of cardamom, ½  teaspoon of coriander, ½ teaspoon of anise, and 1 teaspoons of nutmeg.
Weigh the amount of spices you have now, and add an equal amount of cinnamon.
Recipe Almond Paste
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
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.
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, 8×10 inch (20×26 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.
15. If you wrap the stuffed speculaas in clingfoil, after it has cooled completely, you can store it a few days at room temperature. Freezing is possible, but fresh speculaas tastes better.

Thanks Francijn for a fantastic challenge! Gevulde Speculaas was a hit in my family! I will definately be making these again!

    I love comfort food. My favourite comfort food…
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