Awesome days they used to be. Since then i secretly thought will there be a day i would be as comfortable to take up the DB challenges as Anu, will i ever be a Daring baker myself. Soon i stopped blogging and my plans of participating in the DB challenges went lost. When i started blogging again, i was following 3 regulars of the Daring Kitchen Deeba, Finla, and Aparna, and was again tempted with the beautiful creations coming out of the Daring Bakers Challenges. And one of my new year resolutions has been to do all the DB challenges, and do the 12 breads this year. So here i am , no longer a Daring bakers Virgin, i kick start the year with one of my best bakes and just cannot contain my excitement, if this is just the start, how fun the rest of the journey would be.
Francijn of Koken in de Brouwerij was chosen to host the January challenge and cannot thank her enough for choosing one of the simplest but most elegant recipes for me to start with. She dared us to try a traditional dutch pastry, a Gevulde Speculaas, a dutch spiced cake with an almond filling, and yes, as the rule says, all from scratch. Like all the other daring baker hosts, Francijn has given a beautifully explained recipe of for the pastry, which cannot go wrong. Loved the texture of your pastry Francijn, i must try making mine thinner next time.
I wanted to have this as my 100th post, but i had a deadline to follow for a bread , and i was glad to post the beautiful bread Aparna proposed. This reminds me, have you participated in the giveaway yet, go check the 100th post, and enter, if you missed it.
Here goes the spiced cake, in continuation to the 100th post celebration, one of my bestest creations, thanks Francijn once again! The bestest part of this cake was that, it had 3 parts to it, the almond paste (i also use it to make a Swedish coffee bread), the speculaas dough, it can be the most non messy recipe to follow, just make these a day or 2 in advance and refrigerate it, i was in a hurry to go to my cousins wedding, so had to rush it all in the same day.
Gevulde Speculaas : Dutch Spiced Cake Filled With Almond Paste
Preparation time :
Almond paste : 1/2 hr
Speculaas Dough : 20 minutes
Refrigeration : 2 hrs
Baking + Assembling : 40+10 minutes
For the Almond Paste
200 gms / 1 cup raw almonds, blanches, and ground
125 gms, of powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon / 5ml of lemon zest
For the Speculaas Spice mix
1 heaped tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch finely ground white pepper
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp mace powder
1/8 tsp coriander powder
For Speculaas Dough
1 cup / 250 gm all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup / 150 grms brown sugar, firmly packed
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons speculaas spice
3/4 cup 175 gms unsalted butter, at room temperature
Make the almond paste
1. Blanch the almonds : Boil some water, add the almonds, leave for a minute, and then drain immediately and let it cool , or run it through cold water. Rub it between your fingers to remove the skins.
2. Grind the almonds for a minute or two until finely ground.
3. Add the sugar and grind for another 2 minutes. It will almost become a paste.
4. Add the egg into it if you are using a food processor , to combine it, or pour it into a bowl and mix the egg with your fingers.
5. Add the lemon zest at this stage and mix, and your almond paste is ready.
(The pic is of almond paste from another time, when i didn't add the lemon zest, else beautiful strands of lemon zest show in the almond paste)
6. Wrap it in a cling foil and set aside.
Make the Speculaas Dough
1. Add the all purpose flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and the spices into a bowl and mix with your fingers to make a consistent brown mixture.
2. Add the butter into it, and knead until smooth.
3. The recipe mentioned to feel free to add some milk if the dough seems a little dry, but i didn't need any.
4. Wrap it in a cling foil and refrigerate for an hour.
Assemble and Bake
1. Use a medium pie pan, or a basic flat rectangular pan, or a bread loaf pan, cake tin for this. Grease the pan with some butter.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C.
3. Divide the dough into two portions and roll out both the portions on a lightly floured surface or between 2 cling foil sheets until they are exactly as big as the baking pan.
4. Place one of the layers in the pan and press it lightly to fit the pan. Smear 1/3 or an egg over the dough in the pan.
5. Similarly roll out the almond paste, between 2 cling foil sheets, to the size to fit the pan, and place it over the dough in the pan.
6. Press it to fit the pan, and then smear another 1.3 of the egg over it.
7. Now place the next layer of the dough over the paste layer and again press it to fit the pan. and smoothen it out as well as possible, i used the bottom of a cup to make it even, and then smear the last of the egg remaining over the dough.
8. Decorate the top with the almonds set aside as you wish.
9. Bake it for 40 minutes or until the cake passes the tooth pick test.
10. Let it cool completely in the pan, run a knife through the corners before taking it out of the pan, and cut it in shapes as you desire.
Be ready for a house bursting with the aromas of the speculaas mix and if you are a fan of middle eastern and dutch pastry, this will tickle your taste buds to all extremes.
Take small helpings as it is a heavy dessert. Have it with some vanilla ice cream and experience heaven!
Garg says this is the bestest i have baked so far, well, i guess he does encourage me every time i make something new, and it pushes me to try new things, but iam sure the spice mix enthused him, and reminded him of his favorite, baklava.
Iam so looking forward to the next bread, and the next challenge in the Daring kitchen , in between , i am going to make some apple crumble of a traditional apple pie in my newly acquired tart shells. Wish me luck for that. I also have got some new food colors, so should i do a apple tart, or a colorful cake! wondering!
Just in case you missed my 100th post, where i announced a giveaway, of Nigella Lawsons book "Feast : Food that celebrates life", and a personalized box of a few of my favorites from my kitchen:
3. Amma style molaghapodi (south Indian spice powder, a must accompaniment to dosas)
4. My mother inlaws super sexy garlic - mango pickle with the surprise chana inside it.
(* all these in cute little jars you would love to have... )
If you have not entered yet, do so soon, just 3 days left, for the winner to be drawn and announced.