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Gevulde Spekulaas (Filled Speculaas) 5 December 2009

Posted by uggclogs in Baking, Happiness, Life, Sinterklaas.
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Today is Sinterklaas. So hereby, I am posting my favourite recipe for a special Sinterklaas treat that I grew up on.

Unfortunately, you will need preparation time for this. As in, a month’s preparation time. And it is labour intensive. But since I do not have all the tools for the recipe with me here in Vietnam, I did not make it this year, and therefore I forgot to tell you a month ago to make the spijs. But here goes the recipe anyways.

Gevulde Spekulaas

Spijs (Almond Paste)

Ingredients:
250 g white sugar
250 g almonds
2 eggs
Grated zest from two lemons

Method:
– Place the almonds in boiling water so that the skin becomes loose. Peel them. It will be easiest when the water is still hot, you should be able to just press them at one end, and they shoot out of their skin.
– Dry the almonds.
– With an almond grater (or a meat grinder with a very fine grating blade, or even a very sturdy parmigiana grater) grate the almonds in batches. This will take a long time, and lots of elbow grease. My mother used to put the almonds through the grater twice, to make sure the almonds were grated fine enough.
– Tip 1: Do NOT use a kitchen blender, as the cutting blades will release too much of the oil in the almond.
– Tip 2: I find that the grated almond stuff that you can buy in the shops is too mealy and too fine, it needs to keep some of its texture.
– Mix the grated almonds with the sugar, egg and lemon zest.
– Clean a large jar or container really well.
– Tip 3: If using a jam jar, wash it and the lid, then place it open in the oven at 100 C for 20-30 minutes to kill all germs and bacteria.
– Place almond paste in the jar (let it cool first), and place the jar in the fridge.
– Leave for 4-6 weeks to ‘ferment’. The sugar will act like a preservative, but the paste will go much softer and smoother over time.

Gevulde Speculaas:

Ingredients:
300 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbs speculaas spices (Tip: you can replace this with 1/2 tbs ground cloves, 1/2 tbs ground ginger and 1 tbs cinnamon. It is not quite the same, as the original mix contains 9 spices, but it will do)
150 g brown sugar (use light brown sugar for a lighter colour of speculaas, but dark brown sugar for a rounder taste)
1 tsp salt
150 g cold butter
4 tbs milk
400-500 g almond paste (it will make the speculaas thicker or thinner, to taste. The above recipe will yield 500 g worth, but if you use less, have no fear, because there are plenty other goodies you can make with the left overs. I often make 750 g of spijs when I make it)
1 egg
About 25 peeled almonds, halved (they are naturally two halves within the peel)

Method:
– Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large mixing bowl.
– Add the sugar and salt, then spoon through it to roughly combine the ingredients.
– Cut the butter into small squares with a knife. The smaller the pieces, the easier to combine the dough later. Add to the bowl.
– Add the milk.
– Knead the dough by hand until smooth. Tip: If your hands are too hot, the butter will melt, making the dough too liquid. Try to cool your hands down before this step, either by placing them in cold water, or by holding a bag of ice cubes.
– When smooth, cover the dough and place in fridge for at least 1 hour. Tip: When making this in a hot country like Australia in December (summer), you will have to combine it as quickly as possible, but leave it in the fridge for longer. The longer you leave it, the more the spices will infuse, so leaving it overnight will yield better results.
– Preheat oven to 175 C.
– Use a 4-5 cm deep baking tin. Melt some butter, and make a quick swirl with a pastry brush in your baking tin. This is just to stick the paper down, so don’t worry about covering everything.
– Cover the tin with baking paper. Butter it well on the inside.
– Divide the dough in two equal amounts. Leave one in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
– Take 2 pieces of baking paper, and roll the dough out between them. Alternatively, you can roll the dough out on the counter, but make sure you dust it with flour first.
– Roll out to about 3-5 millimetres thick, and into a square piece that will fit in your baking tin.
– Place the first batch of dough on the baking paper, covering the bottom only.
– Place a layer of spijs onto the bottom layer of dough, all the way to the edges of the baking tin. Even it out with a spoon.
– Roll out the second batch of dough to create a lid, and place on top of the spijs.
– Press the almond halves onto the dough, spacing them 3-4 cm apart. They need to be secure, but visible, and equally spaced (important for cutting)
– Brush with egg.
– Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes.
– Let the speculaas cool in the tin. When cool, cut into rhomboids. Tip: cut the speculaas into strips about 3-4 cm wide first, then cut diagonally between the almonds. Tip 2: do not cut the speculaas while still hot, as it will crumble.

Enjoy!

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