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!
I have worked with several people from the Netherlands and have even gone to a Dutch themed tulip festival in nearby Pella, Iowa and one thing I have learned is that the Dutch know their treats. If you don't believe me just try a stroopwafel if you ever get the chance.
In this months challenge Francijn (from the Netherlands) starts out teaching us some Dutch history and all about the spice trade. The bakers guilds in the Netherlands would create secret spice mixtures and one still used today is known as Speculaas. It seems like everyone makes it differently (similar to a curry mix) but Francijn gave us some good guidelines to create our very own Speculaas mix.
We also created our own Almond paste and put it all together to make Gevulde Speculaas (or stuffed Speculaas). When I put this together it did not go together quite as nice as in Francijn's pictures. There was no way I could get the rolled dough into a pan in one piece. The good news is that it didn't really seem to matter - I was able to kind of press it together in the pan and after it baked no one would ever know.
The combination of scents and flavors was amazing. Lucky this even made it until it was fully baked because it smelled so good in the oven. I did taste it before it got too cool and it was delicious warm. Nice and soft with the warm flavors of the spices and the nice sweet almond filling. Definitely a recipe I will keep for the future - might be something nice to make at Christmas time. If you would like to try out this recipe you can find it in the Daring Kitchen Archives - join us!
I normally send a bunch of the treats I make to my wife's work so I don't end up eating the entire pan (not that I couldn't do that). Well this time was a little different. I live in MN and for those of you that don't know MN gets pretty cold (a few days I woke to -17F or -27C). One of the crazy things people do here is called the Polar Bear Plunge and this year I decided to do it. In about two weeks they will be cutting a hole in the ice at a local lake and I will be jumping into it. It is all for a good cause - we are taking pledges to support Special Olympics MN. Well I turned my Gevulde Speculaas into a bit of a mini bake sale at my wife's work and took donations for my polar plunge. I ended up getting $36 in donations.
If you are interested click on the link below. If it is before Feb 9 it will let you pledge to support Special Olympics MN in my name. After that date I think it is going to show a picture of how I look after jumping into freezing water - should be interesting.