Monday, November 1, 2010

Gevulde Speculaas (Spice cake with almond paste)

This is an autumn cake from the Netherlands, and if you like spices and almonds it's the perfect treat for you. If not, well, I've got a chocolate version in the works--stay tuned. It's quite rich, so it's best served in small slices. Don't worry--you can always go back for seconds! I definitely did. It's actually more like a cookie than a cake, as the dough is dry enough to roll out. The resulting confection is firm, sweet, spicy and crumbly, and perfect with tea or coffee. This is another recipe from Warm Bread and Honey Cake, my favourite new baking book in ages. I want to make almost everything from this book, as the writing and photos are wonderful.
Spice mixture*
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon aniseed
¼ teaspoon cloves
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon mace
9 oz/1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
7 oz/1 cup brown sugar
6 oz/¾ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg, well beaten
10½ oz coarse almond paste (I made my own, see below)
about ½-¾ of a beaten egg (reserve the rest for glazing)
  1. Combine spices, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and run the food processor until the dough comes together. Try not to eat all the dough. Divide the dough into ⅓ and ⅔ portions, shape in discs, wrap separately in plastic and refrigerate. Chill for one hour. It can be made the day before, but will need to warm up before rolling to prevent it from breaking up.
  2. Preheat oven to 340℉/170℃  and grease a 9" cake pan.
  3. Mix the coarse almond paste with enough beaten egg to make a fairly soft, spreadable filling. Set aside. Roll out the larger portion of dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap to an 11" circle. Make sure there are no creases in the plastic wrap. Use this piece of dough to line the pan, pressing it to the sides of the pan so it doesn't fall inward. Spread the almond paste evenly over the dough and fold in the dough edges so they rest on the almond paste. Reuse the plastic wrap to roll the smaller piece of dough into an 8½" circle. It should be slightly smaller than the cake pan. Trim it so the edges are neat. Moisten the edges of the dough in the pan and lay the smaller circle on top. Press the edges gently together to seal. Brush with the leftover beaten egg and prick with a fork in several places. I forgot to glaze it and it was fine. 
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Leave to cool in the pan, then transfer carefully to a serving plate. If you can stand it, wrap this and let it sit for a day or two before serving for best flavour.
*I reduced the cinnamon, upped the cardamom and ginger, and left out the cloves and aniseed. Use what you have, making up any missing spices by increasing one of the first 3. This is the place for fresh and freshly ground spices, as you can really taste them. I also halved this recipe and made it in a 6" pan, which still made 16 slices. It freezes well, too. 
Coarse almond paste:
My new neighbourhood has a fantastic store for buying very fresh nuts, so I have given up on store-bought almond paste. They do not sell blanched almonds there, but the almonds were huge and very fresh, so I did it myself by covering them with boiling water and letting them sit for a minute or two, till the skins wrinkled. I then rinsed them in cold water and squeezed the almonds out of their skins.
8 oz blanched almonds
5 oz icing sugar
1 egg white
lemon zest (optional)
almond extract (taste first to see if it's necessary--I didn't add any)
Grind almonds in food processor until coarsely ground. Add icing sugar and egg white and process until it comes together. Best made a few days in advance and refrigerated. Can also be frozen.


Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

I am such a big fan of Speculaas cookies, this version as a cake with almond paste on top of it, OMG!

Have you tasted Speculaas spread? Could make a new version with almond paste swirls :-)

Jennifurla said...

I love the texture hear, bookmarking because it sounds wonderful

Valérie said...

I love the flavour of speculaas! Can't wait for the chocolate version!

Mimi said...

I love both the flavors of speculaas and almond paste, so together, heaven.

Valerie said...

Wow, Mary. Who can resist almond paste? This looks delicious!

*edit* Blogger comments should have spell check. :-)

Renata said...

OMG Mary! That looks SOOOO good!!!

twitcher said...

Dang Mary, that looks too good not to try, even with the spices!

Marcellina said...

How fantastic - almonds and all those spices - I'd love this! Thanks for the recipe! BTW, Mary what a coincidence I'm just 100km north of Townsville in a little town called Ingham. If you ever come back to visit your friend please do call in! Gosh, it must have been a hot Christmas for you!

Laurie @simplyscratch said...

Mary!!! I really wish I had a slice to go with my coffee right now!! It sounds really delicious and the pictures are wonderful! Again; spices+cake=HEAVEN!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I came over from FFWD. I'm sure you got asked many times "how does your kitchen grow?" :)

This is an interesting cake, it looks delicious too!

Anonymous said...

Almond paste? Cardamom? Cloves? I'm there!

Anonymous said...

Oh man, when I saw this I just knew it was going to be top of my Christmas baking list, I just love marzipan fillings! Yummy

Beth said...

Wow what an interesting cake. I love the way a spice cake make the house smell during the holiday season... All warm and cozy. Nothing better. THanks for the great post. I'll have to try this. B

RamblingTart said...

Oh my word, Mary! This has to be my favorite cake I've seen this Fall. :-) WOW!! I love the use of almond paste - my Dad is Danish and we grew up on the stuff. :-) And those lovely spices too. Mmm. :-) Can't wait to make this!!

Cakelaw said...

This looks delicious!! I have this book after seeing it on Lemonpi's blog, but after an inital fit of enthusiasm, I am yet to bake anything from it.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

oh, man. i'm half dutch, so i love this kind of thing! i have this book also, but haven't made anything yet...i'll have to give the recipes a try.

♥Sugar♥Plum♥Fairy♥ said...

I want to bake Speculaas cookies ever since i saw them on Dorie's site and now am totally in love with this cake !!

ITs jus something i will totally love , we have to make our own nut pastes here too , coz we dont find it around and i love making my own nut paste too!!
Cashew is my all time fav ,with a drop of almond extract:-)

Anonymous said...

wow wow, bookmarking! Have to make this! And thanks for the book rec too.

A Canadian Foodie said...

Did I not read carefully enough? I went back... I will go back again - as your photo has the top open. YOu must add another layer. The spice mixture has Christmas written all over it. YUM. And marzipan is my favourite thing. Ever. I make my own, too. I am going to compare our recipes. I have a Venetian rainbow cookie I make every year with my home made marzipan - and I am pretty sure this will be added to the list. I have also been looking for a homemade Butter Cake recipe... Dutch - pronounced: Budakook... can't recall how to spell it. Do you have one of those, too?

Lynne said...

I love that you made your own almond paste and I love all the spices in the cake! Lovely!

Anonymous said...

So delicious during the winters. Spice and almonds!! Well done on the challenge!