speculating on speculaas and speculoos

chewed dog ears...or windmills if you squint really hard

I was supposed to make these last year, but that didn’t happen. This year it is though. The tasty spiced biscuits generally eaten for the Feast of Saint Nicolas, (Dec 5th or 6th- depending on whether you come from Belgium or the Netherlands) that taste rather good dunked into your beverage of choice.

SBS’s Feast magazine has had two recipes for them recently (September and December issues) and both varying slightly with their quantities and ingredients. I stuck with the simpler version and then have since tweaked it to suit me more. These are a really great biscuit to roll up and keep in the freezer, to be cooked at a moments notice. Give as gifts, and also a good excuse to go find yourself a speculoos plank. Yes indeed, a speculoos plank. Even the name is enticing and it’s one of those funky little wooden moulds to pop your biscuits in before baking.

The thought had entered my head, and there wasn’t a whole lot of persuading of that thought, that it wasn’t something I really needed. An investment in my future I rationalised. I’ll be making loads of these down the track. I’ll start a new tradition of making them every 6th of December for the family and for many years of Christmas presents to come.

See, of course it makes sense to buy one from Belgium for a friend to bring back with her on her travels in several weeks time.

That was almost the case and then I found out there is a little online Dutch store, that has them and can post straight away. Being an Australian based company this was going to be a whole lot quicker, (bought on Friday night, arrived on Monday morning- thank you Australia Post.)

So now what to do with my cute little wooden windmill mould?

Everything I had read on the internet said these were a bit of a pest to use initially when they were still new. One site helpfully suggested some ‘light swearing’ might be useful. On trying the mould out, I would suggest intermittent heavy swearing wouldn’t go astray either. I had made the dough quite a few times, I was happy with the taste and the way they could easily be cut from a log, baked and eaten. They were an easy biscuit to make in that form. Using the mould however…

First, it was new,so I needed to grubby is up a bit. Using rice flour to line it certainly helps and after quite some time of working out what works best accompanied with multiple pursing of lips, eyebrow frowns, and the odd whispered intermittent heavy swear word. It worked.

Hooray! Biscuit dough back in the fridge to firm up again and then baked. I did it, speculaas have been conquered.

Baked for 15-20 minutes until golden and then out they come. Speculaas not conquered.

They look different to the un-moulded ones. All that fiddling with the mould before they get baked  has caused the butter within to melt a bit, despite firming them up again before baking it, the dough has changed the consistency some what. How do I get them in without that small amount of melty action? The distinct windmill print looks a little more like a chewed dog ear now.

So I kept playing and fiddling, using a knife instead of my fingers to get the dough in and moulded around. The final verdict? The biscuit dough recipe is tasty, easy, and praticle. It works really well for rolled and cut circles, or simply rolled out and cut with a regular biscuit cutter.

I don’t think it’s the right recipe for the mould however, (unless you are happy with the chewed dog ear look, which in that case is fine.)

So I’ll keep playing and tweaking. In the mean time, at least I have something to nibble on while I do so.

Speculaas

adapted from SBS Feast Magazine recipe- Dec edition

250g (1 2/3 cup) plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

50g brown sugar

50g muscavado sugar

50g pecans

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, cloves

150g cold cubed butter

2 tbls cold water

Process all dry ingredients until mixed well. Then add butter and process again until it resembles bread crumbs. Mixture into a bowl and add 1-2 tbls of cold water. Give it a quick knead, bringing the mixture together to form a smooth round ball, divide into two logs. Wrap in plastic and into the fridge until it firms up, (over night is good, to let that spices infuse properly.) Or roll into log forms, and pop in the freezer for later use.*

For baking, cut rounds off on to a tray and bake….

OR

If you have a mould. Cut small rounds off and press the mixture into a rice flour dusted wooden mould. Fiddle with it until you work out the best method to get them out and then let me know how you can do all this and not let the butter in the dough change consistency.*

Thanks!

* Or simple roll mixture out and use regular biscuit cutters to get a shape that you like.

* They are still perfectly acceptable to be eaten, dunked and given away as gifts in this way.

An extra thought- I think the flour to butter ratio needs to be changed a little for using the mould properly… maybe. I’ll keep tweaking anyway and see what I come up with.

About these ads

36 thoughts on “speculating on speculaas and speculoos

  1. This really made me smile :) It sounds like they may be tricky little biscuits, but clearly worth the effort. Even if these aren’t quite where you’d like them to be, they sounds pretty delicious – and I suspect no one would turn them down as gifts :)

    I am also in love with the sound of a speculoos plank. What a delightful phrase.

  2. I am never sure exactly what these biscuits are meant to be but I love the name – I have made lebkuchen this year and they seem very similar – love spicy bikkies – never heard of the moulds but I think maybe you just need to hang them on your kitchen wall – they sound more attractive than practical to me but maybe you will find the right recipe for them.

  3. I may stick to my star-shaped cutters. Have to let you know that your plates totally match my mum’s bathroom. I remember it being decorated in the 1970′s.

  4. Oh how funny, I think a little dose of swearing helps most tricky situations.

    I completely understand your frustration regarding the moulds. I’ve encountered the same problem using timber shortbread moulds. I used mix of cornflour and rice flour for dusting but the best advice I was given was to freeze the moulds and the baking trays for an hour before use. I think you might be right regarding the butter and flour ratio. My recipe (from a dutch lady) has 250g butter and sugar to 500g of flour.

    Yum I love these biscuits, looks like I’ll be making some this weekend.

  5. Oh- so very well done, Brydie!
    Never give up on making cookies that you have your heart set on.
    You will perfect the dough and use the mold with marvelous results- it is just a matter of time.

  6. I had two giant shortbread moulds this year to make big biscuits, just a couple that I could decorate and give to the Biscuit monster. Made out of ceramic, they stuck like b… and then one of the moulds shattered along a hair line crack. Not amused was I. There must be a secret known only to the Guild of Speculoos bakers…. Still a great story Brydie xx

    • That is hugely disappointing that it shattered Joanna. That would have induced a whole different range of words from my lips.
      (although I have to say, it is a little comforting to hear that other people have trouble with the moulds as well.)
      To be conquered still!

  7. I certainly agree that sweating greases the wheel at times! those in the December issue were the ones I’ve had my eye on as I’ve got the exact mould shown on the page. Unfortunately my manual dexterity isn’t up to fiddling with these art the moment, so thanks for saving my hubby the heart ache of me yelling-I mean encouraging him- that yes, this is the way its supposed to work. There certainly would have been very heavy extreme swearing and smashing going on in my kitchen :)

    • Hahaha, that’s hilarious :-) your typo that is. I like the sweating version better!
      Now as for that mould, where did you get it?? I looked online for far too long to find something similar and couldn’t for the life of me find anything.

  8. Pingback: finding the spirit | cityhippyfarmgirl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s