We have started making speculaas biscuits again. Speculaas is a typical biscuit for Belgium, the Netherlands, some parts of Germany and North France. It is especially popular around the time of Sinterklaas on the 6th (or sometimes the 5th) of December. On that day the sweet holy man brought my brothers and myself a giant speculaas one from Sinterklaas every year. I can still remember the taste it’s delicate texture, I loved it so much! It was different and much better than any other speculaas I ever had.
Speculaas in the UK
In English these speculaas biscuits may also be referred to as windmill cakes as they sometimes come in the shape of a Dutch windmill. You might have been lucky and got one with a coffee sometimes, but that would have been an industrially made one and that usually means they are much less spiced and contain more sugar than they need to. The higher sugar content also makes them harder. You may also have discovered the speculaas spread in the supermarket? You can find it next to the jams and chocolate spread. Despite it’s excessive amount of sugar, I do really like it and my kids go completely crazy over it. That is why we had to establish another food related rule: We only have speculaas spread when we are in Belgium on holiday, very important!
Speculaas Spice mix
As I mentioned in my post about healthy gingerbread men Speculaas biscuits are similar to gingerbread. It also has a spice mix in it, but the difference is that ginger is not one of the main spices. Ginger is only added as a special extra. The basic spices are: cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, white pepper, coriander, aniseed. Ginger, cardamom and mace are added sometimes. Bakeries used to have their own very secret recipe for the spice mix, only the chef baker or the owner was allowed to read it in his special book! This means there is not one original and correct recipe, there are lots of different recipes.
One recipe for the spice mix I found online is as follows:
- 30 grams of cinnamon
- 10 grams of nutmeg
- 5 grams of ground aniseed
- 10 grams of clove
- 5 grams of white pepper
- 5 grams of ground coriander seeds
I usually make it easier on myself and buy a spice mix. Here in the UK I buy it from The Speculaas Company and their spice mix recipe is secret as well, they give away the most important ingredients, but not everything. It is the owner’s Dutch grandmother’s recipe. I have used it quite often now and I like it a lot, so that is that: I don’t need to use a pharmacist’s scale to make my own mix, I simply order it online.
Flours and sweeteners
Apart from the spices, there is also variation possible in the type of flour and the type of sweetener. I have tried them with wholemeal wheat flour, white wheat flour and rye flour. Rye flour is what was used in the older recipes. For sweetener I have used coconut sugar, cassonade or dark brown cane sugar and I have used honey. Of all my experimenting I have chosen one favourite recipe for the speculaas biscuits and exactly that is what you find right here today. The spices are the main ingredient as they give the specific flavour. The type of sugar doesn’t make much difference. I do feel wheat flour gives the biscuits a nicer, lighter structure than the rye flour.
Whatever choices you make, I hope you will enjoy these speculaas biscuits as much as we do, they are a true joy!
Original Speculaas Biscuits
|Prep:||Cook:||Yield: 30 biscuits||Total:|
- 300 grams of wholemeal wheat flour
- 140 grams of brown sugar
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 5 tsp speculaas spices
- 120 grams of butter
- pinch of salt
- 6 tbsp of milk
- Mix all the dry ingredients together first,
- Cut the butter in pieces and start mixing it under the dry ingredients,
- Add the milk and knead until you have a firm mixture.
- Wrap the dough up in clingfoil and leave for as much time as you have, the spices will give off their flavour more over time, for example 24 hours or even a few days.
- When ready roll out the dough up to about 5 mm and cut out the biscuits.
- Bake for 15 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius.
from More Than Just Carrots